Women traders and entrepreneurs in East Africa have a reason to smile. This comes after TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) launched a USD 4.5 million Women and Trade programme that is aimed at empowering women. It will go a long way to help women increase their incomes and improve livelihoods for women traders and women-owned enterprises. This will be made possible through capacity-building, addressing trade barriers and advocacy for policies that will create an enabling environment for women to thrive.
The Women and Trade programme, which will run for approximately twelve months, targets 25,000 women traders in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan. Plans are underway to have a second phase of the programme in 2017 where a there is a budget of USD 17 million committed to that.
This programme promises to be a game-changer that will enable women already in business and those aspiring to conduct businesses to thrive. The government reinstated its support on women and their endeavours to succeed in business through remarks made by the Cabinet Secretary for foreign affairs H.E Ambassador Amina Mohammed who graced the event.
The role of the woman in society cannot be underestimated. As cliché as it may sound, when you empower a woman, you empower the entire society. Women play a major and critical role in the well-being of their families and the entire society. While men reinvest only 30% to 40% of their income in education, health and nutrition for their family and community, women reinvest a whopping 90%. This is according to a World Bank Report “Engendering Development”. In addition, if women had the same access to productive resources as men do, they could produce 20% to 30% more food significantly increasing product yield translating to up to 150 million fewer hungry people. This is according to a report by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Lack of proper information is major hindrance to the success of women in trade. On the other hand, where women are unable to access the market for their produce, it becomes frustrating. This is because they have a micro market and those willing to thrive are denied that chance. TMEA has partnered with organisation to significantly contribute to women traders’ increased knowledge on EAC trade and export procedures by December next year. This will increase the revenues of the women exporters and traders and also increase the use of formal trade channels/systems by the targeted women cross border channels.
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) aims at tackling poverty and reducing inequality through increased trade and competitiveness. To make this a possibility, the Women and Trade (WaT) programme was launched. The potential benefits of this programme are:
a) Female employment in exports
b) Increased production
c) Better food security
d) More poverty reduction
e) Less gender discrimination
f) Higher wages for women