To commemorate the end of the International Trade Center’s SheTrades Rwanda project, a virtual SheTrades Day event informed on project results, highlighting the continued support available to women entrepreneurs in Rwanda. The information session shared key project interventions and lessons learned, including capacity-building trainings, digital skills for women-owned businesses, as well as tools and platforms.
Since the project’s start in 2020, 90% of women entrepreneurs have acquired new skills in e-commerce and branding, thus improving their competitiveness and market access. More than 100 Rwandan women entrepreneurs have been connected to more markets, and almost 1,000 women coffee growers are using new digital traceability solutions based on blockchain – exceeding the project’s initial target by nearly five times. Moreover, due to COVID-19, the project diversified its approach to connect women entrepreneurs to markets through a supermarket initiative, digital solutions including traceability records, and digital and branding strategies to increase their product competitiveness.
To ensure sustainability, SheTrades Rwanda has successfully secured investment from other donor agencies. Also, to build more resilience for women entrepreneurs, the organization use a multi-pronged approach to connect women to markets during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially by leveraging the potential of emerging digital technologies. The organization also aims to ensure the project’s continuity, provide institutional strengthening and operational structure for the implementing partner, such as setting up and integrating a SheTrades Rwanda Hub that will continue to serve Rwandan women entrepreneurs, offering the possibility to connect with more than ten SheTrades Hubs across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
At the event, Michelle Kristy, SheTrades Rwanda Project Manager, International Trade Center explained: “Trade is an effective driver for the economic inclusion of women, overall economic expansion, job creation and innovation. Rwanda has a strong domestic and regional demand for Rwandan produce and firms can leverage existing business development services to improve their capacity on export finance, standards, and market entry strategies.”
Jeanne Françoise Mubiligi, Chairperson of the Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs said: “The SheTrades Hub will support Rwandan women entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness, connect them to new markets and internationalize their businesses. The Hub will also serve as a resource center for women-owned businesses giving them access to more than 100 relevant trade-related modules, webinars, and trainings in addition to market access and investment opportunities.”
The SheTrades Rwanda Hub is a component of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)-funded “Project to Enhance the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Export Growth Initiatives” managed by the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry and hosted the by the Private Sector Federation Rwanda – Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (PSF/CWE).
The International Trade Center (ITC) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs hosted the event in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), marking the end of the SheTrades Rwanda project on 28 February 2022. Rwandan women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, business support organizations, multinational companies, international organizations, high-level government representatives, value chain intermediaries and service providers attended the event.
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