At a breakfast today, Women stakeholders including national level women’s business associations; business women’s groups (Urban and Rural); individual women business entrepreneurs and key Government institutions deliberate on modalities of working together to enhance their participation in the East African Integration Process at Kampala Sheraton Hotel. Organized by TradeMark East Africa in partnership with the iCON Enterprise Foundation (formerly iCON Women & Young People’s Leadership Academy), the East African Business Council and the East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP), the meeting themed “Enhancing Participation and Amplifying Voices of Uganda Women in Business and Trade in the East African Integration Process” is graced by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde.
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) an organisation funded by a range of development agencies with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through trade, established a regional women in business platform(East African Women in Business Platform) to position and catalyse the participation of women in EAC integration process. The platform’s key strategies are to: increase effective participation of women in business in EAC integration processes; improve economic contribution of women in business in EAC Partner States and; increase progression of women-owned enterprises in EAC from informal to formal status.
Allen Asiimwe, Director Trade Mark East Africa-Uganda, said “The Platform currently hosted by the East African Business Council (EABC) has member organisations at the national level who together with other women associations address issues with different levels of success, however the capacity of these organisations to adequately research, articulate and advocate on key policy issues affecting their engagement in EAC regional trade remains limited. This is why the breakfast meeting today is important to make aware and address the need to deepen the interventions at national level, develop a collective and coordinated approach and amplify Ugandan women’s voices in the EAC regional integration particularly on business and trade issues”.
“Most of the women in this country are in services which constitute over 50 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but face challenges especially when trading across the borders to include: travel security risks, poor infrastructure that increases costs of transporting goods across borders, discrimination and harassment by border officials, non/low level participation in policy development and implementation, lack of market information, inadequate access to finance and credit facilities, lack of access to currency exchange facilities, among others” Hon Amelia Kyambadde reiterated. “I am especially grateful for this timely forum and thank the organisers and the women groups altogether that are ensuring the Ugandan woman entrepreneur/trader is educated and takes advantage of the EAC integration agenda as per the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC under Articles 121 and 122 and the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016) that outline the important role that women of East Africa play in the economic, social and political development of the region and the need for women to be accorded high priority as partners in the regional integration process”.she added.
Deborah Kaddu Serwadda, Regional Director ICON enterprise foundation encouraged all stakeholders to take advantage of this meeting as an initial step to interact with key trade policy makers in the region, ask questions, have their voices heard as well as learn about their right as women traders across borders. “ I thank you TradeMark East Africa; iCON Enterprise Foundation; East African Business Council; and East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP).