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Africa: New Initiative to Boost Women Entrepreneurs

Connecting sustainable development to investments in women is critical.

By Ivan R. Mugisha

The International Trade Centre (ITC) has launched a new initiative expected to push for increased participation of women entrepreneurs in public procurement.

The initiative is hoped will cut down on the dominance of men, who, participants at the Roundtable of the Global Platform on Sourcing from Women Vendors noted, earn the majority of public contracts.

The Global Platform on Sourcing from Women Vendors was organised, yesterday, on the sidelines of the World Export Development Forum that is underway in Kigali.

According to ITC, currently only an estimated one per cent of public-procurement contracts globally are awarded to women entrepreneurs.

Announcing the new initiative, ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez, noted that whereas the number of women entrepreneurs is growing, only a very small fraction were benefitting from public-procurement contracts.

“Women account for half the world’s population and have a concrete role to play in economic development. We can collectively improve the one per cent of the public procurement that finds its way to women-owned businesses,” she said.

The announcement was accompanied with a handbook titled, “Empowering women through public Procurement,” with guidelines for governments on how to facilitate women entrepreneurs.

“It will be a major improvement if three, four or five per cent of public contracts went to women entrepreneurs in the short run. We are calling for a fairer system in which women have a better chance of bidding for public tenders,” Gonzalez said.

Oda Gasinzigwa, the minister for gender and family promotion, welcomed the initiative, saying this was a tool that will help propel Rwanda to its next level of women empowerment.

“In Rwanda, existing gender sensitive laws and regulations offer a unique fiscal responsible route to empower women, including public procurement. But we too have some way to go, and this initiative is much welcomed,” she said.

“It will help combat poverty and promote inclusive economic growth. It will help increase the participation of women-owned businesses, not only in public procurement but also in public decision making.” Uganda’s Minister for Trade Amelia Kyambadde also committed to implementing the initiative in her country.




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