Trade Tuesday: Looking Around The Corner

It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.   Winston Churchill  The African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, is a free trade agreement whose main objective is to create a single continental market for services and goods, with free movement of investments and trade people. AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 for 24 countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification. AfCTA provides the potential opportunity to unlock a 1.2 billion people opportunity with a combined GDP of 3.4 trillion USD.  The United Nations Economic Commission on Africa projects a 52.3% increase of the intra Africa trade with increased opportunities of scale, reduced barriers for market access and enhanced competitiveness across the African continent.  The AfCFTA has the potential to produce opportunities in economic sectors where women are concentrated, including Agriculture, Manufacturing Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday: SheTrades Global 2019

Trade can play an important role in driving women’s economic empowerment but we need a more inclusive trading system that will allow more women to participate in trade and to reap the economic benefits of global trading.  This week, I am attending my final international event as the President of OWIT Nairobi. As I join thought-leaders who have convened here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for SheTrades Global 2019, I am excited to be part of discussions to ‘chart the next milestone in transforming the global agenda on women and trade.’  2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and two years since the launch of Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Significant efforts have been made to speed up progress on women’s participation in the economy and trade. To Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday: Promoting The Advancement Of Women In International Trade

“Next time, ask: what’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare…” Audre Lorde There’s a ceiling to the amount and rate of growth you can achieve and maintain in your own domestic country market.  According to the Institute of International Economics, companies participating in global trade not only grow more quickly than those that don’t, they’re also less likely to go out of business. Trading international also benefits you with competitive advantage in the domestic market with benchmarking quality products and services and innovation of world class technology in domestic markets. Trading across borders also buffers against the political uncertainty that occurs through periods of transition. The instability of the political environment poses a risk to economic growth and diversification, by way of trading in different markets, can help to minimise the impact of political uncertainty. Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Adjust Your Sails

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean e-Commerce can contribute to women’s empowerment & circumvent the challenges that women in business face, allowing them to sell their products online. Building the e-Commerce ecosystem will be key to allowing women entrepreneurs to access markets and grow their business, thereby employing more women, as data shows that firms run by women tend to employ more women. According to UNCTAD, global e-commerce sales grew 13% in 2017, hitting an estimated $29 trillion. A similar surge was seen in the number of online shoppers, which jumped by 12% and stood at 1.3 billion people, or one quarter of the world’s population. Though most internet buyers purchased goods and services from domestic vendors, the share of those buying from abroad rose from 15% Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: WTO Public Forum

One of the things that I love the most about my role as President of OWIT Nairobi, is the opportunity it has given me to participate in global forums. This week I am in Geneva, at the WTO Public Forum. I am delighted to be part of an OWIT/WEI collaborative panel to discuss gender exclusiveness in Trade in Services. I heard it said recently that if you are not at the table, you might just find that you are on the menu. At OWIT, we are working hard to ensure that we promote the advancement of women in international trade by pulling up a chair! Join the Webcast tomorrow;Gender Inclusiveness in Trade in ServicesOctober 9 2019, 4.30 – 6 pm Geneva time Working Session at World Trade Organization Public Forum, Geneva  Presented by: Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Africa Rising

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” ~ African Proverb I spent my birthday week in Capetown – at the World Economic Forum, Africa.  It was great to be back in my favourite African city, and even more exciting to participate in the Forum For Africa. I led a focus group discussion as part of a session – “Innovate, Integrate & Empower for Inclusive Trade In Africa” – organised by the Global Alliance For Trade Facilitation.  We explored the challenges that women traders in Africa face when accessing foreign markets and worked as a team to identify possible solutions that the Alliance can utilise across the continent. A common thread ran through the entire week, a discussion about the African Continental Free Trade Area, and with it was a constant refrain Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Thriving Businesses’

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” — Jim Rohn At OWIT Nairobi, we have a vision to empower women to transform communities through global trade. We are committed to creating opportunities for women to connect to global markets. As a Business Support Organisation, we work closely with our members to ensure access to the necessary tools to build businesses that can go global. The theme for our July Business Meeting was ‘Thriving Processes For Thriving Businesses’ & the session was facilitated by Rosslyn Mutahi of Top Tier Ltd and Ruth Tabbu, Director at Maersk. Systems and processes play a significant role in building and growing a business – particularly for women going global. In a bid to build a global brand, Women Owned Businesses’ must put in Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Banking On Women

Access to finance is particularly daunting. Women are significantly less likely to…access to financial services than men. The IFC estimates that the worldwide gap in financing for formal, women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) totals close to $300 billion. Arancha Gonzalez Women entrepreneurs often start businesses using less capital than men due to limitations in income and reserves as well as lack of knowledge about the availability of institutional funding. They are less likely to use bank loans to fund the commencement of operations and more likely to borrow from family, friends & ‘fools’ or use the more expensive option of non-traditional/non-institutional lenders. This inability to access funding manifests in the relatively smaller sizes of the businesses that women run. According to The World Bank’s Gender at Work report (2014); “On virtually every global measure, women are more economically excluded Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: Facilitating Trade For Women

“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” ~ Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM The ability to move goods and services across borders efficiently and predictably, can mean the difference between success & failure for women trading across borders. Unfortunately, across the African continent, women face discriminatory biases that hinder their full participation in global trade. Since 2016, World Bank’s Doing Business country rankings included gender indicators, which highlighted the regulatory biases faced by women. When the written standards are exactly the same, more female-owned exporting firms report procedural obstacles to trade than do male-owned firms, including “information and transparency issues,” “informal or high payments” and “discriminatory behaviour.” In order to ensure that ‘no-one is left behind’ – trade policy initiatives must address the challenges that are unique to women in trade. Reforms should be based on a thorough understanding of their impact Continue Reading

Trade Tuesday For Women In Business: What Goes Around Comes Around

Networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships. ~ Ivan Misner The world has become a global village, opening up opportunities for women in business to trade across borders. Success however depends on the ability to develop a strong network of connections across borders. Successful networking can open the door to unexpected business opportunities overseas, and some reports claim that up to 80% of business opportunities are now landed through networking. In their book “Make Your Contacts Count”, Barber & Waymon describe networking as the deliberate process of exchanging information, resources, support and access in such a way as to create mutually beneficial relationships for professional and personal success. Simply put, networking is a support system of sharing information, resources and services.  At its core, networking is about building RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS that grow and develop Continue Reading