EABC Empowers East African Women to Seize Benefits of the EAC Common Market
- Open EAC borders & cross border markets for women to trade
- Women in Business share experiences on doing business across EAC border amid COVID-19
Friday, 11th December 2020, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: Over 50 women in business have been empowered to tap into the East African Community (EAC) Common Market of 177 million consumers following the successful East African Women in Business Breakfast Meeting held today at Weru Weru Lodge in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Ms. Mary Ngechu, EABC Board Director & the Chief Guest at the Women Breakfast Meeting held under the theme “intra-EAC trade and investment opportunities” said, “Women should boldly tap into the opportunities availed by the EAC regional integration by engaging in cross borders trade and value addition.”
She further emphasized that access to finance and low level of knowledge on cross border trade regulations & opportunities are among challenges facing businesswomen in the region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cash flow of businesswomen at a greater scale compared to businessmen, as most of them own Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and compose 76% of informal cross border traders in the EAC region. This is due to the measures to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region such as lockdown, curfews, restrictions on the free movement of cargo and persons.
“In this new norm women should adopt digital tools and technologies such as e-commerce to upscale their businesses,” said Ms. Mary Ngechu.
Women shared their experiences on realigning their business models to tap into new opportunities such as manufacturing face shields, soap, adopting online & social media stores and digital payments.
With the commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1st of January 2020, East African women should be empowered on the regulations and new market opportunities availed by the continental market of 1.7 billion people.
The women urged the East African Community and African Union to come up with a continental simplified trade regime for the highly exported goods by women from the EAC region to the continent, this will enhance market access.
Complex tax regimes and Non-Tariff Barriers continue to hinder women to engage proactively in cross-border trade forcing them to use informal routes.
The women urged EAC Partner State to come up with simplified and gender-sensitive COVID-19 measures; allow free movement of people and opening up borders & cross border markets. This will move will boost intra-EAC trade and the resilience of women-owned businesses.
With support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) the East African Business Council champions trade and gender issues under its flagship platform, the East African Women in Business Platform which brings together businesswomen from all the EAC Partner States with a mission of positioning and catalyzing participation of women in the EAC integration process.