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Making Trade Work for Women in Eastern Africa

Making Trade Work for Women in Eastern Africa – Regional integration in East Africa provides opportunities to enhance the inclusion and participation of Women Cross Border Traders (WCBTs) in formal trade, therefore enhancing their livelihoods. For us to achieve this, there is great need to resolve some of the key challenges limiting women owned Small and Medium Enterprises growth in trade. Such include restrictive regulatory regimes, access to finance, gender insensitive customs border management, lack of information on trade and markets, harassment and corruptions at various border points as well as trade agencies.


With funding from Global Affairs Canada through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA); The Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of women (EASSI) is implementing a project “Making Trade Work for Women” across several East African borders. This project seeks to facilitate a gender-responsive trading environment and to empower women to trade gainfully and take up opportunities for trade in Eastern Africa. The project will address the following challenges including: discriminatory but often deeply entrenched social-cultural practices and norms in society. The project will provide information, knowledge, skills and spaces for association so as to make it easier for the targeted women to participate in trade and to gradually change attitudes and behaviour that deters them from contributing to the advancement of their families. Through the gains made from trade, the targeted women traders will be in a better position to support the development of their communities and effectively participate in decision-making processes.

Project Purpose

To contribute to the greater inclusion of women in trade as one of the pathways to increased business competitiveness and increased trade in the EAC.

Expected outcome:Improve social and economic empowerment of women traders in Eastern Africa

What is being done

->Provide information to WCBTs on access to markets and other trade support services
->Address unfavourable policy, regulatory and customs clearance frameworks in the EAC
->Strengthen the representation and participation of WCBTs in their trade associations and cooperatives
->Strengthen the capacity of WCBTs to engage in formal trade
->Collect and document the challenges faced by WCBTs
->Address Gender Based Violence and the abuse of the rights women involved in cross border trade

Objectives of the Project

(i) To increase the income received from trade by targeted women traders in East Africa
(ii) To increase the capacity of women to participate in formal trade
(iii) To promote the rights of women in trade and reduce the risk of abuse and their vulnerability to violence

Project Activities

->Engaging with policy makers, implementers, the media and other development partners in trade.
->Research, documentation and dissemination of information on issues affecting women in trade.
->Sensitisation and capacity strengthening of policy implementers and WCBTs on gender and trade issues.
->Providing information and exploring opportunities for market linkages and network building for WCBTs
->Promoting collective action of WCBTs
->Addressing the abuse of women’s rights, in particular GBV and offering support in seeking justice for those violated

Project Site

EASSI plans to reach 100,000 women traders at twenty (20) borders in Eastern Africa. 10,000 in Taveta/Holili (Kenya-Tanzania); 10,000 in Goli/Mahagi (UgandaDRC); 10,000 in Elegu/Nimule (Uganda-South Sudan); 20,000 in Busia Uganda and Kenya; 15,000 in Malaba Uganda and Kenya; 10,000 in Mutukula Uganda and Tanzania; 10,000 in Isibania/Sirari (Kenya-Tanzania), 10,000 in Lungalunga Tanzania and Kenya; 2,500 in Kobero/Kabanga (Tanzania-Burundi) and 2,500 in Namanga Kenya and Tanzania.

For more info about this awesome project, check out the Project Brief – Making Trade Work for Women in Eastern Africa 2020-2023



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