Several structural, institutional and socio–cultural barriers continue to hinder women’s access and entitlement to economic opportunities, benefits and rights at the national, regional and international levels. Despite women in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHEA) being highly entrepreneurial and economically active, in comparison to their male counterparts, they have got less access to and control of productive resources. In cross border trade women operate under difficult circumstances. Apart from the dangers to their lives, the use of different currencies across the border points with fluctuating exchange rates; the existence of numerous taxes such as Value added Taxes (VAT), Excise duty, Withholding tax, import duty, export duty, country-specific taxes like, the infrastructure development fund all pose real difficulties to transacting profitable business .
Women’s engagement in regional and international trade is further curtailed by the increased use of e-commerce. In the next five years, EASSI will work closely with the East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP) to create awareness and compliance of trade facilitation policies with global gender equality standards and enhance women’s participation in regional and international trade. Across the region, the single biggest constraint facing women entrepreneurs is accessing finances for startup and working capital or even to expand their businesses. Many women entrepreneurs lack collateral to secure loans and lack financial literacy. Women in business have also got limited innovativeness; unregistered businesses; and a baggage of domestic problems that often leads to diversion of business capital to other family needs.