The International Trade Center’s ‘SheTrades’ initiative has been launched in Rwanda with the First Lady Jeannette Kagame calling for more support in breaking barriers that continue to block women from fully realizing their entrepreneurial abilities.
The SheTrades initiative provides women entrepreneurs around the world with a unique network and platform to connect to markets.
Through the SheTrades app, women entrepreneurs are able to share information about their companies, increase visibility, expand networks, connect and internationalize.
Addressing participants at the launch of the initiative at the Kigali Convention Center today, Mrs. Kagame said that policy, lack of access to finance and information and cultural inhibitions were some of the reasons why women globally continue to be held back from participating in international trade.
“In other words, if women – who constitute over half of the world’s working age population do not fully utilize their potential to generate wealth, the global economy will suffer. This is how much we lose,” she said.
She pointed out that equality remains the foundation of the Rwandan government’s policy orientation and development action with more women playing an increasingly active role in the socio-economic fabric of the country.
The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre; Arancha González pointed out the need to provide education and skills building which she said are both going to be essential for a woman to also be part of the fourth industrial revolution.
“It’s also about addressing the very high concentration of women in the informal sector working, self-employed or being owners of small and medium enterprises.
When these women move into higher and more value added activities, they earn a better wage and through that, you make their economies more inclusive and stronger, the quality of the growth is better and the route to end poverty is faster, she said.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and East African Affairs; Francois Kanimba told participants that the ‘She Trades’ initiative is perfectly aligned to Rwanda’s desire to empower women in business as a crucial drive of economic sustainable development and poverty reduction.
“The Ministry I head recognizes the important role women play in business especially when it comes to trade with other countries given that more than 70 percent of Rwanda’s cross border traders are women,” he said.
SheTrades, which aims to connect one million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020, also helps corporations to include more women entrepreneurs in their supply chains.