After a few years of great partnerships of the SheTrades initiative in third world and developing economies around the globe and over many years since the establishment of the International Trade Center, its building every day and growing its numbers especially as it relates to women in trade. While the SheTrades portal offers a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs to connect verified buyers and sellers, it’s also gradually growing to be the movement it was cut out for i.e. a community of women developing new friendships and partnerships in business across the globe.
There has been a lot of talk about the initiative and many campaigns held and in several countries, awareness has been created in the quest to connect one million women to market by 2020, an ambition that is been worked on with such alacrity and great speed. West Africa in the month of November 2017 had a taste of it with the initiative traveling to Ghana and Nigeria. With Anna Mori and Loly Gaitan been great officers of the ITC working with passion and drive to support women in business.
Seeing approximately 95 women all in one space in a meeting that had targeted a maximum of 60 people was overwhelming , we had to close the doors to prevent the excessive numbers that kept trooping in.
This first pilot of the workshop in Ghana, proofs that there is the need for knowledge for women entrepreneurs to expand, grow and build. My first hand interaction with many of the women entrepreneurs revealed a few need areas key to which was access to finance for some,creating marketing for others as well as assistance with getting ready for the export market for others.
One key interest that immediately tested the relevance of the workshop was how both corporate and public sector leaders in Ghana pledged their support for women in export.
It was even more refreshing when a lady walked to me to say a big thanks for convincing her to stay and sharing with me the instant value she had been connected to a buyer for her oil palm business.
While many have good products, I realized with keen interest that there was also a challenge with packaging themselves to be more attractive and sort out for. The many examples shared by women leaders, breaking barriers in technology and other areas from Ghana and Kenya offered great value as motive actors to encourage women to keep on going.
While women have been more entrepreneurial especially in sub saharan Africa, they have been the most marginalized and its a new dawn for them to receive the support they need to keep shining their light in trade and export.
Women were encouraged that sometimes they win and sometimes, they learn as the affable president of the chartered institute of bankers in Ghana, Mrs. Patricia Sappor threw more light on the need for financial discipline of women entrepreneurs, a point that was well received and buttressed by Mr. Lawrence Agyinsam, CEO of Exim Bank Ghana who pledged his support as much as possible to position Ghana as an export ready market.
To make the SheTrades initiative work requires the support of all, both male and female and its great to know that there are a lot of men supporting women in this effort. It was very touching to see a husband that came with his wife and took on the responsibility of baby sitting his child as well as nephew so both mothers, all business owners could focus on the business of the day. In many small ways, every one is making that contribution to ensure the success of this initiative.
The day long activity ended on a great note with women networking with each other, full of energy, hope and the ability to do more and win more.