Women are dominating small scale cross-border trade between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), new findings have revealed. A research paper titled; ‘Deriving maximum benefit from small-scale cross-border trade between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda’, reveal that at least 83 percent of traders around the area are women between the ages of 25 and 45. 65% of the women, the majority of whom sell agricultural goods and manufactured products, are the main breadwinners of their families. The study, which was commissioned in conjunction with Trade Mark East-Africa, Pro-femmes Twese hamwe (A national women’s organization) and International Alert, also reveals that men dominate trade in high valued commodities such as livestock and industrial commodities. “Only 20 percent of men trade agricultural commodities, as against 49.8 percent of women; 16 percent of men trade arts and crafts products, against 0.046 percent of women; and 11 percent of men trade fishery products, against 15 percent of women,” reads part of the research. The report on the other hand showed that there is no significant difference between men and women as far as selling points are concerned. It states that 31 percent of men and 38 percent of women sell in markets while 23 percent of men and 19 percent of women engage in door-to-door sales. However, while 38 percent of men and women sell on the streets, a far smaller number (8 percent of men and 5 percent of women) sell their commodities in shops. According to Furaha, a 25-year old trader who started her business with Rwf10,000 ($15), she now earns close to Rwf87,000 in profits per month. This has helped her improve her life and that of her family. Presenting the research findings Betty Mutesi, a consultant who helped author the report, said that many women’s lives have been transformed as a direct result of the cross-border trade. “We have seen that some take care of their households, even when their husbands are jobless. They need more financial support and other facilities that can help make best of their businesses,” she said. The study on the other hand decries the issues that hinder the trade in the area such as haphazard levying of informal taxation, lack of appropriate infrastructure at the border and differences in border closure hours which are seen as the main challenges. “These challenges have to be addressed rapidly if this business is to contribute in an effective way to the alleviation of poverty in these border areas,” reads part of the report. The majority of traders decided to engage in small-scale cross-border trade due to the lack of job opportunities in their own countries while others cited the encouragement of friends and family members, only 13 said that they were attracted by the high profitability of the trade,” further reads the report. While levels of the income vary from traders in all border communities, Rwandan traders have on average less start-up capital (Rwf28,000) than their Congolese counterparts (Rwf53,000). Despite this, the Rwandans dominate cross-border trade. At least 54 percent of the respondents from the Rwandan side are members of cooperatives, a success attributed to the culture of working together where they can be facilitated both strategically and financially. This percentage is much higher for Rwandan small-scale traders than their Congolese counterparts, given that the culture of cooperatives is more developed in Rwanda and receives much support from the government.