Regional governments have been urged to give more support to women in business to enhance entrepreneurship and ensure equitable and sustainable development.
Mary Muthoni, the chairperson of Women in Business Committee at Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), said women entrepreneurs have limited access to affordable credit, and lack skills required to provide innovative products or services.
Muthoni said these challenges are hindering efforts by women to engage in cross-border trade.
“It is, therefore, important for governments in the East African Community (EAC) bloc to understand these challenges and design policies that will make it easy for more women to do business,” she said.
She added that there is need for training to equip women with skills to help them manage and operate cross-border businesses better. She also called on women to form strong business groups to lobby for their interests at the regional level.
Muthoni was speaking at the first Kenya-Rwanda Women Business Forum in Kigali yesterday. The event, which attracted over 100 women entrepreneurs from Kenya and Rwanda, was organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) and KNCCI-Women in Business Sector.
It discussed ways of addressing the challenges women face while doing business in the region, as well as mechanisms on how they can work together and benefit from opportunities presented by the regional market.
Eugenie Mushimiyimana, the president of the chamber of women and entrepreneurs at PSF, said it is important for governments to put in place requisite infrastructure to help reduce the cost of doing business, especially for women.
Speaking at the event, Kenya’s Ministry of East African Community Affairs permanent secretary, Betty Maina said the Rwanda-Kenya women entrepreneurs’ business platform is a key ingredient that will help foster trade relations between the two countries.
John Mwangemi, the Kenyan High Commissioner in Rwanda, said such platforms support women empowerment and the region’s development initiatives.