SheTrades, an initiative of the International Trade Center (ITC) is a mobile application that provides women entrepreneurs with a unique platform to connect to markets. The platform enables women entrepreneurs to share information about their companies to make them visible, expand networks and eventually internationalize. The initiative came to be due to the realization that there are very few women in international trade hence a call to action by ITC to support 1 million women entrepreneurs to enter into the international markets by 2020.

In Kenya, ITC signed a MOU with Barclays bank last Friday to launch the SheTradesKE initiative. With this Barclays intends to equip 10,000 women entrepreneurs with new skills and connect them to international trade opportunities in an area which is currently dominated by men. Through the partnership, Barclays will leverage its expertise in financial services while ITC will employ its experience in business development to offer local women entrepreneurs support in critical areas, including financial management, in order to help them create and maintain links to international markets. These trainings will be carried out through These trainings will be carried out through 50 workshops delivered by business support organisations, 54 webinars on market analysis tools, 27 e-learning courses, 9 business generation activities to connect 275 WBEs to buyers and 5 trade fairs..

In Kenya, SME’s contribute 1.4 trillion to the country’s annual GDP with 48% of these SMEs run by women. Also according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity Kenya is the 106th largest export economy in the world with our main exports being tea (Kshs. 123 billion), horticulture (Kshs.101 billion), apparel & clothing (Kshs.28 billion), coffee (Kshs.21 billion), and tobacco & tobacco products (16 billion) .

Through the SheTradesKE initiative women will be equipped to be able to access the international market which will in turn increase their revenues. To this end ITC launched an app last year that allows women to register, interact and connect with other women entrepreneurs and companies across the globe. This app was apparently developed by GreenBell Communications a Kenyan based ICT firm, how about that. Through this they can be able to learn from the best and also adopt better business practices in addition to having access to new markets for their produce.

Barclays has committed to committed to support the initiative to the tune of Kshs. 70 million over the next 5 years. They have also set aside an amount of Kshs. 5 billion as a loans kitty for the women who will be trained under this initiative. According to Ms Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director at ITC, the kitty that has been set aside for women will be a big boost due to the fact that access to credit has been identified as a key constraint to women in business as it has confined them to the informal sector.

You can download the app here.