World Export Development Forum (WEDF) 2019
Helping buyers and sellers make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area, with a focus on women and youth
The World Export Development Forum 2019 in Addis Ababa was organized in the context of the Africa Industrialization Week and was co-hosted with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission.
Over 1000 participants from all over the world, including business leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and representatives of international organizations, business support organizations and the media came together to seize opportunities for trading and investing in One Africa.
The event featured high-level plenaries, business-to-business meetings, ITC’s premier event to connect women entrepreneurs to market - SheTrades Global -, the Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment (YES) Forum, a Youth Media Zone, as well as meetings to facilitate investment from China and India in Africa.
Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings and ‘Meet the experts’ workshops are an integral part of the World Export Development Forum. At WEDF 2019, we invited businesses from across the world to make the most of the growing momentum to trade and invest in Africa. Business matchmaking focused on agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, meat, cereals, dairy, tea, coffee, spices, and others), as well as agri-processing technologies and packaging solutions.
For the 3rd time, WEDF provided a platform for young entrepreneurs to present their ideas and gain support for the development of their businesses. In 2019, five African and one Asian social start-ups took centre-stage. The six finalists of the young entrepreneurs competition from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, South Korea and South Africa were selected by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with partners including Impact Hub Geneva’s Accelerate2030 programme, IceAddis, the Pierre Castel Foundation and the Korea-Africa Foundation. The winner was SiyaBuddy from South Africa.
This pitching competition is an initiative of ITC’s Youth and Trade programme, which aims to connect young social entrepreneurs to markets and support social entrepreneurship as a way of contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, on quality education, and Goal 8, on sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
The judges’ assessments were based on the value proposition of the business ideas, as well as their social impact, market potential, team strength, and financial model.
SheTrades Global featured talks by high-level officials of the African Union Commission and the Government of Ethiopia, as well as conversations with trade ministers, first ladies, and private sector partners. Themes discussed included how free trade agreements catalyze more inclusive trade for women, with a spotlight on the African Continental Free Trade Area; innovative tools for women in trade, such as the SheTrades Outlook; and perspectives on priorities by SheTrades private sector partners.
This youth entrepreneurship event explored policies, skills, networks and finance. Part of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, it was organized with the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.