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ITC SheTrades initiative launched in Rwanda

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Kigali: The Rwanda edition of the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative was today launched in Kigali by First Lady Ms. Jeannette Kagame. During the launch, mobile-phone provider MTN Rwanda also announced it would offer women entrepreneurs downloads and free browsing of the ITC SheTrades mobile application. Launched in September 2015, the SheTrades initiative will connect 1 million women to markets by 2020.

Chief Executive Officer Bart Hofker of MTN Rwanda said his company would help promote the SheTrades app throughout the company’s media platforms and activities and would also provide training for women entrepreneurs on issues ranging from doing business online to using technological applications.

“We aim to harness the potential of Rwandan women entrepreneurs and enhance the growth of women-owned businesses to scale up and access markets” Mr. Hofker said. “We are committed to connecting 2,000 women to markets by 2020 as we believe this is an urgent necessity for inclusive economic growth”.

MTN’s Rwanda announcement was welcomed by ITC Executive Director Arancha González, who said that the company was setting an example for others to follow. ‘It is only by combining government policies with private-sector actions that we can achieve our goal of connecting more women entrepreneurs to markets,’ Ms. González said.

“We need big companies to lead if we are to achieve women’s economic empowerment. And when MTN makes a commitment to women like it has today, the impact is far reaching.”

Mr. François Kanimba, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, said: “The SheTrades movement will advance women’s economic empowerment by creating an enabling environment that allows them to participate in the global economy”.

The launch of SheTrades Rwanda on 22-23 March brings together representatives from government, academia and the private sector to commit to actions that support women entrepreneurs and help them overcome barriers, including growing their businesses and accessing global markets.

Another major commitment made at the SheTrades Rwanda launch came from New Faces, New Voices, a pan-African advocacy group for women in finance, which announced that it would establish a new Women Investment Fund and help connect 3,000 women entrepreneurs to markets.

Held in conjunction with the SheTrades launch, the Mitreeki East Africa-India Partnership sessions, a series of workshops for women entrepreneurs, are exploring how women entrepreneurs can develop their businesses with a view to internationalize. These will bring together women entrepreneurs from across East Africa, as well as several international speakers.

The SheTrades initiative, launched in 2015, aims to connect 1 million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020. Through the initiative, ITC provides support to women entrepreneurs through seven pillars: championing quality data; promoting fair policies; supporting women’s participation in government procurement as well as in corporate procurement; promoting access to financial services; and supporting women ownership rights.

These form a guide for policymakers and businesses to achieve greater gender inclusiveness in trade, which is part of ITC’s effort to help UN member states achieve Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to empower all women and girls.

Donors include the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Australian Aid, TradeMark East Africa and Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mitreeki – a combination of the Sanskrit word Maitreyi and the Swahili word Urafiki, both of which mean ‘friend’ – is a women-focused initiative implemented by ITC’s Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa project and funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. Mitreeki promotes women’s entrepreneurship in East Africa through knowledge exchange, e-learning and networking in partnership with regional and Indian partners.


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