TMEA CEO Frank Matsaert

At least 350,000 women in East Africa are to be supported to become import and export traders to take advantage of the region’s common market, according to an official of TradeMark East Africa.

Frank Matsaert, the chief executive officer of Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), said days ago in Nairobi that the extra support comes as the 5,000 and 25,000women targeted in the phase one and two of the project respectively had doubled their income since 2010 when the project was first launched.

“This is a commitment we are making today to ensure that women of East Africa fully benefit from the common market “Women play a crucial role in growing trade and therefore economies within East Africa,” he said, adding that there was need to find ways of supporting women in business through partnerships with various organizations.

Matsaert said that his agency’s initial focus was on reducing the cost of doing business especially at the borders where small traders were being harassed even though it now focuses also on helping women participate effectively in the intra-regional trade. Our target is to work with one million women in the next eight years,” he said.

Matsaert urges the regional governments and development partners to focus on addressing systematic challenges that continue to slow women’s participation in business, which he says include; access to adequate financing, lack of access to assets, and cultural effects on women’s property rights.

TMEA is a non-profit body that works with various partners to grow potential or intra-East Africa and the region’s potential to export. It has been instrumental in modenising the region’s border posts to ease business environment.
The One Stop Border Posts established now facilitate joint processing of documents to reduce transit costs incurred in cross border movement.