Over 50 women entrepreneurs in East Africa have been empowered to tap into the East African Community (EAC) Common Market. The regional market consists of over 177 million consumers. This comes after the East African Women in Business Breakfast Meeting held at Weru Weru Lodge in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

Ms. Mary Ngechu, East African Business Council (EABC) Board Director & the Chief Guest at the Women Breakfast Meeting held under the theme intra-EAC trade and investment opportunities said, “Women should boldly tap into the opportunities availed by the EAC regional integration by engaging in cross borders trade and value addition.”

She further emphasized that access to finance and low level of knowledge on cross border trade regulations & opportunities are among challenges facing businesswomen in the region.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cash flow of women in business at a greater scale compared to their male counterparts, as most of them own Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). This has increased due to the measures to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region such as lockdown, curfews and restrictions on the free movement of cargo and people.

The women also deliberated on realigning their business models to tap into new opportunities such as manufacturing face shields, soap, adopting online & social media stores and digital payments.

Complex tax regimes and Non-Tariff Barriers continue to hinder women to engage proactively in cross-border trade forcing them to use informal routes.

With support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) the East African Business Council (EABC) champions trade and gender issues under its flagship platform, the East African Women in Business platform. The platform brings together businesswomen from all the EAC Partner States with a mission of positioning and catalyzing participation of women in the EAC inclusion process.