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HYDERABAD, India - US President Donald Trump"s daughter Ivanka Trump kicked off a global business leaders" meeting in southern India on Tuesday, calling for better opportunities for women entrepreneurs battling heavy odds around the world.
Ivanka, also an informal adviser to her father, received a warm welcome in India"s high-tech hub of Hyderabad with all the trappings of a state guest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined her in the opening of the US-backed Global Entrepreneurship Summit which New Delhi is hoping will further boost political and economic ties with the United States under the Trump administration.
Ivanka, wearing a bright green floral dress, said fueling the growth of women-led businesses and closing the gender entrepreneurship gap could help expand global GDP by 2 percent.
"Women still face steep obstacles to starting, owning and growing their businesses. We must ensure women entrepreneurs have access to capital, access to networks and mentors," Ivanka said to loud cheers from a packed audience in a heavily-guarded conference center.
In developing countries, 70 percent of women-owned smaller businesses were being denied access to capital, she said, leading to a near $300 billion annual credit deficit for them.
GES is an event conceived by former US president Barack Obama. It has previously been held in countries such as the US and Turkey, but this year"s edition is the first under the Trump administration.
The theme of the conference this year is "Women First, Prosperity for All". More than half the participants at the summit are women, and all-female delegations are representing countries such as Afghanistan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Ivanka, who ran an eponymous clothing and jewelry business before becoming an adviser in the White House, has made women"s issues one of her main policy areas.
She cited a Harvard Business Review report that found that in the US, investors ask men questions about their potential for gains, whereas they ask women questions about their potential for loss.
Billboards with pictures of Ivanka dotted many parts of Hyderabad which is also home to major US firms such as Microsoft. In recent days, authorities took beggars off city streets in a cleanup drive before the meeting, media said.
More than 10,000 police officials were deployed in the city and sniffer dogs as well as "spotters", or men trained to detect any suspicious activity or people, were on stand by, a police officer said.
On the sidelines, Ivanka held talks with Modi, as well as Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. Later she toured the conference center with Modi and met a few entrepreneurs, before watching traditional Indian dance performances in the inaugural session.
India has become a major market for the US, with two-way trade of about $115 billion last year. They aim to raise that to $500 billion by 2022.
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