Group of five women standing in front of a Rwanda country trade fair booth section.

Five Rwandan women entrepreneurs in horticulture attend Dubai trade fair

15 December 2023
ITC News

The Rwanda booth offered fresh and processed avocados, French beans, passion fruits, chilis, and more. The women arrived after going through a training course that prepared them to make the most out of the event.

The Middle East Organic & Natural Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, ran from 12-14 December 2023. In total, 12 enterprises exhibited in the Rwanda pavilion at the fair this year. 

The five women working with the International Trade Centre (ITC) attended the expo through the Value-added Initiative to Boost Employment (VIBE) Programme for Women-led Businesses, implemented by ITC SheTrades

VIBE is led by TradeMark Africa, which works to grow prosperity through increased trade. VIBE worked in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to bring the women to Dubai. 

Before leaving for the expo, they received an overview of the Middle East and North Africa market, guidance on product pricing, and insights into trade fair logistics by a market expert to ensure their businesses’ competitiveness.  

The VIBE Programme also got the five businesses featured on the trade fair’s virtual e-commerce platform, Arabian Organics, for a year. This allows buyers to access the businesses’ company profile, learn about the products offered, and make direct contact. 

Zulekha Gatera, founder and managing director of avocado oil business Zatoms Ltd, secured five leads at the fair and received insights into her business’ market potential in the region.  

‘This was my first time entering the MENA market. It was a great opportunity to conduct market research. Coming here, I’ve learned that there is a big demand for our products that I did not know of before,’ said Gatera. ‘Looking at the packaging of others’ products, I realized the company name on my products was too small, so I am going to improve on the packaging and labelling.’ 

MENA has emerged as a promising market for fast-moving consumer goods and hotel, restaurant, and cafe products such as coffee, honey, fruits, and vegetables.  

RDB has identified potential buyers among hypermarkets, distributors, and wholesales. Sales to such buyers would grow exports of high-value, organic and natural products  to increase Rwandan export revenues. RDB expects to sign significant export deals, in terms of both revenue and volume, from the trade fair. 

A new vibe for women-led businesses in Rwanda 

In partnership with Mastercard Foundation, ITC is implementing interventions targeting women-led businesses and refugees of the TradeMark Africa-led VIBE Programme

The VIBE Programme aims to increase dignified employment, particularly among excluded groups such as women, youth, refugees, and people living with disabilities in Rwanda. It also contributes to the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy, launched in Rwanda in 2018, to provide opportunities for young people in Africa to secure dignified and fulfilling work. 

In collaboration with the SheTrades Rwanda Hub, ITC SheTrades will specifically implement the intervention targeting 150 export-ready women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the horticulture sector to access new market opportunities, while creating jobs for young people, especially young women. The host institution of the SheTrades Rwanda Hub, Private Sector Federation (PSF) Specialized Cluster, is the key implementing partner of ITC SheTrades in Rwanda.  

About ITC SheTrades  

The SheTrades Initiative which is the ITC’s flagship women and trade programme aims to remove barriers to women's participation in trade by working with governments, the private sector, and entrepreneurs to build the business capacities of women and to create a fairer, more sustainable global economy.