ACCESS! for African Businesswomen in International Trade aims at improving business support services for women to increase their capacity to export and success on international and regional markets with the ultimate goal of promoting their economic empowerment. ACCESS! provides dedicated export management training, business counselling and mentoring, product development and access to foreign markets for businesswomen in 19 Sub-Saharan African countries.
It is widely recognized that women entrepreneurs across Africa are generating employment and adding value to exports in innovative ways. Yet, they face a host of challenges such as limited access to export training, market information and finance in addition to other barriers women face in the business environment. Since 2007, the ACCESS! Export Training Programme of the International Trade Centre (ITC) has been dedicated to addressing these limitations by strengthening the competitiveness of women exporters and building the capacity of Trade Support Institutions such as Trade Ministries, Chambers of Commerce and Women’s Business Associations to support them.
ACCESS! has grown to be a recognized programme for women exporters in Africa, helping them to realize their economic potential and thereby contributing concretely to poverty reduction and improved standards of living. Measurable results show how the programme has played a vital role for women exporters in Africa.
The programme covers so many topics about export business which are important to get right. I particularly appreciated the training modules on INCOTERMS® 2010 and negotiations. From ACCESS!, I developed a better understanding of the responsibilities of clients and suppliers which helped me with my own negotiation processes. With this new sense of confidence, I was able to talk to customers in a way that was win-win. It was empowering just to access this information. Knowledge can remove fear as a barrier to tackling new markets.— Paully Appiah Kubi, Ebenut Ghana Limited
In addition to generating employment and export revenues, many of these women have spearheaded the development of new sectors in their respective countries. Some examples include eco-tourism in Ethiopia, plant-based products with pharmaceutical qualities in the Republic of Congo and Benin, eco-textiles in Uganda and one-stop solutions for outfitting hospitals with medical equipment from South Africa.