Supporting Women in Africa

By Shaw, Nic | International Trade Forum, October-December 2012 | Go to article overview

Supporting Women in Africa


Shaw, Nic, International Trade Forum


Women entrepreneurs across Africa are generating employment and adding value to exports in innovative ways, yet they face a host of challenges, such as limited access to export training, market information and finance, in addition to other barriers women face in the business environment.

Since 2007, the International Trade Centre's (ITC) ACCESS! Export Training Programme has been dedicated to addressing these limitations by strengthening the competitiveness of more than 2,800 women exporters. It does this through a network of more than 60 certified national trainers, four certified lead trainers and a comprehensive training package of 32 modules, available in both French and English. Furthermore, ACCESS! works to build the capacity of trade support institutions such as trade ministries, chambers of commerce and women's business associations to support them.

ACCESS! has grown to be a recognized programme in Africa, helping women exporters in 20 different countries to reach their full economic potential and thereby contributing to long-term poverty reduction and improved standards of living. The following case studies highlight just a few of the many women entrepreneurs in Africa who have benefitted from the support of ACCESS!. They describe how these women have successfully managed their businesses in the face of considerable challenges and how ACCESS! has helped give them a competitive edge in world markets.

In addition to generating employment and export revenues, many of these women have spearheaded the development of new sectors in their respective countries. Examples include ecotourism in Ethiopia, agriculture in Chad and food processing in Ghana. What is also shared among these women is their commitment to sustainable business growth that benefits consumers, communities and the local environment.

Women entrepreneurs say the ACCESS! programme has given them visibility and courage to overcome the barriers and tackle new international markets through the knowledge, confidence and networks gained.

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