On February 8, 2024, the East African Business Council (EABC) hosted a dynamic virtual webinar “WEST MEETS EAST AFRICA” aimed at amplifying regional trade collaboration and fostering the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs. Organized in collaboration with the East Africa Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP) and Compass Global, the webinar focused on charting pathways to advance intra-African trade within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In his remarks, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, the CEO of EABC, emphasized the indispensable role of the private sector in driving AfCFTA’s objectives. He lauded the achievements of a prior West-East Africa trade mission, citing a notable 20% increase in market access and business linkages between the two regions. Mr. Kalisa passionately advocated for inclusive growth, stressing the pivotal need to empower marginalized groups, especially women, in propelling economic prosperity across East Africa. Additionally, he underscored AfCFTA’s transformative potential, envisioning its capacity to uplift an astounding 100 million people out of poverty and catalyze 70% of Africa’s GDP.
Mrs. Tokunbo Chiedu, CEO of Compass Global, elaborated on the achievements between EABC and Compass Global since they signed the MoU in July 2021. She showcased the strides made in enhancing market access and fostering corporate matchmaking, underscoring the tangible impact of their collaborative efforts on promoting trade opportunities for businesses in the region. Chiedu also introduced an innovative digital platform named MyEA Soko, an EABC initiative targeting women and youth entrepreneurs to sell and showcase their innovative products. The platform additionally offers training and advisory services on how to trade under AfCFTA.
Discussions also revolved around forthcoming plans for an East Africa trade mission to South Africa, with a special focus on empowering women entrepreneurs. Recognizing the instrumental role played by women in driving economic growth, these plans underscored the commitment to fostering their active participation in regional trade initiatives.
Janice Kimaro of EAWiBP underscored the importance of gender inclusivity in trade endeavors, advocating for tailored support mechanisms to address the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.
The webinar concluded with a resounding commitment to promote trade integration, gender equality, and sustainable economic prosperity across Africa. The event served as a testament to EABC’s unwavering dedication to driving positive change and fostering inclusive growth in the region, even within the virtual sphere.