International Trade Centre to boost women-owned businesses

The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC) on Thursday held a workshop to find ways of enhancing women-owned businesses under the ‘SheTrades in the Commonwealth’ project.

The SheTrades in the Commonwealth is a project funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and being implemented by the ITC over two years, from April 2018 to March 2020.

The project, which is being implemented in four Commonwealth countries; Ghana, Kenya, Bangladesh and Nigeria, aims at increasing economic growth and job creation in selected Commonwealth countries by enabling the increased participation of women-owned businesses in international trade.

The workshop sought to discuss and exchange ideas among major stakeholders on how private sector partners, particularly large corporations and multinationals could contribute to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through women’s economic empowerment.

Mr Simon Balfe, the Programme Officer for Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains Division of Enterprises and Institutions at the ITC, said in an interview that it had become necessary to support women-owned businesses for growth towards the attainment of the SDGs.

He said the SheTrades in the Commonwealth project, which was already a year older, would assist in connecting small business owned by women in each of the countries the projects were being implemented.

He said women-owned businesses were mobilised by communicating the concepts to targeted beneficiaries in the project countries through partners such as the media to publicise the opportunities available for women-owned businesses.

Mr Balfe said the SheTrades had a website where any small business owned by women in the project countries could access to register to be considered for enrolment into the project after a short and simple verification process.

He urged businesses owned by women in the information technology, agriculture, tourism, and textile sectors to register on the platform and take advantage of the available opportunities to maximize their revenue potentials.

In a speech read on her behalf, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Executive Director of NBSSI, said access to market was a key game changer to drive the needed revenue for business growth and expansion.

She said women entrepreneurs needed access to local markets and opportunities by multinationals, and other large corporations in the country, urging larger corporations to consider women as key stakeholders in their procurement activities.

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said the SheTrades in the Commonwealth project was intended to help build capacity of small women-owned business areas such as increasing the product quality, adherence to contract terms and international standards among others.

She said the NBSSI was of the belief that the project would help in achieving the mutual goals of increasing the participation of women-owned businesses in international trade.

The initiative would help to understand the opportunities, approach, and value proposition available for women-owned businesses and assist the entrepreneurs in acquiring some knowledge of how to integrate a gender lens into their businesses.

Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said as part of the project, all the barriers and challenges preventing women-owned businesses from accessing and fully participating in local and global value chains would be reduced since participants would be equipped with new guides, tools and techniques for overcoming those barriers.

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