Last week, Barclays Bank of Kenya and the International Trade Centre (ITC) unveiled the Kenyan chapter of She trades, a web and mobile application that provides women entrepreneurs across the world with a unique platform to connect to markets.
The SheTrades App was launched in December last year by ITC Executive Director Arancha González and Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This was at the International Forum on Women in Business, which took place in Nairobi in conjunction with the World Trade Organization’s 10th Ministerial Conference.
The She Trades Kenya initiative is seeking to equip 10,000 local women entrepreneurs with new skills and connect them to international trade opportunities by 2020.
SheTrades app is developed by women entrepreneurs, for women entrepreneurs. It was developed by GreenBell Communications, a Kenyan based ICT firm.
So, how will the 10,000 local women benefit from SheTradesKE?
At SheTrades women entrepreneurs are able to share information about their companies, to make them visible, expand networks, connect and internationalize. It also helps corporations to include more women entrepreneurs in their supply chains.
From this programme, women entrepreneurs will be able to let the market know what their companies have to offer, enables them to find new business and partnership opportunities and also find a platform to match them with companies that have complimentary interests.
In Kenya currently, women owned businesses account for over 48% of all SMEs, contributing to about 20% of the Kenyan gross domestic product. SheTrades Kenya chapter will play a crucial role in furthering the success of these women led SMEs in the country, as well as growing the economy as a whole.
Women are clearly working hard and breaking barriers in hitherto men dominated fields and with the world going digital so fast, it is good news to note that there is an app dedicated to development of women led businesses. The app offers a place to create new business in real time, and in a user driven and friendly space. The app is based on internationally recognized business protocols and is available for download on Google Play Store. It will work on both Android and iPhones
Interms of market, SheTrades helps companies to include more women entrepreneurs in their supply chains as part of diversity and inclusion commitments. Through a series of customized filters companies can identify women entrepreneurs that could meet their sourcing requirements.
As SheTrades members, companies have full access to women entrepreneur’s profiles and company information.
During the event Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of ITC noted that access to credit is a key constraint for women in business and this often confines to the informal sector. She also noted that it limits their ability to grow and generate jobs. “Working together with Barclays will go along way in helping women in business access credit. It will be win-win cooperation” she said.
To ensure credit access, Barclays has committed Ksh.70 million into the programme in the next five years.
As a woman entrepreneur, I can say this is certainly a step in the right direction. We spoke to several successful women at the #SheTradesKe event which was held at Villa Rosa Kempinski and we’ll be bringing their stories later in the week.