Women entrepreneurs and representatives from, Business Support Organizations attended the ceremony. The virtual launch also served as a platform for participants to discuss key issues and challenges that women in trade face in light of COVID-19.
Most Rwandan firms still struggle to compete in the domestic markets and face difficulties in accessing regional markets due to their level of capacity and needs.
According to the latest Establishment Census (2017), women are under-represented in business in Rwanda with only 33 percent of companies being women-owned. Among these, an estimated 98 per cent of women owned/led businesses are small or micro enterprises.
In addition, female entrepreneurs have limited access to skilled labour compared to their male counterparts, which results in lower production at the SME level and under-utilized talent among individual employees.
Funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, (EIF) SheTrades Rwanda will bring a strong export and gender focus to government of Rwanda’s recently launched African Development Skills and Business Development Programme (SBDP).
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, speaking on the occasion said, “The SheTrades Rwanda project will provide effective and tailored support to women entrepreneurs in Rwanda, especially in the coffee and horticulture sectors. Streamlined to meet the needs of women owned businesses, our support will enable them to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis. The measures include identifying strategies for hedging market risks and unlocking opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Rwanda in the aftermath of the crisis. The SheTrades Rwanda Hub, to be established next year, will serve as a catalyst for facilitating women in Rwanda run sustainable businesses.”
SheTrades Rwanda will enable women entrepreneurs to have full access to support from SBDP and avail opportunities to grow exports. It will also help unlock the potential in trade as an effective driver for the economic inclusion of women, overall economic expansion, job creation and innovation.
As part of the launch ceremony, a Crisis Management Workshop will be conducted tomorrow for women-owned/led businesses. This workshop will equip women entrepreneurs with expertise on planning business activities during times of uncertainty and change management.
Participants will also learn about export competitiveness and inclusive SME recovery. The workshop will also guide attendees towards identifying strategic adaptation to hedge market risks and unlock opportunities during and post COVID-19.
The SheTrades Rwanda project aims to increase the competitiveness of women-owned businesses in Rwanda and connect them to regional and local markets.
The project is implemented by International Trade Centre (ITC) under the framework of the SheTrades Initiative from September 2020 - February 2022. It is under the component of the “Project to Enhance the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Export Growth Initiatives”, funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and managed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Rwanda.