Statement by ITC Executive Director at the Barclays – ITC SheTrades partnership launch
UNCTAD XIV 2016 - Nairobi, Kenya
Jambo! and Good Morning!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be back in Nairobi.
With each visit here, I see new developments and proof that the entrepreneurial spirit of Kenya is not only alive, but that it is extremely vibrant.
Last December, Kenya was the first African country to host a WTO Ministerial. Next week you will host UNCTAD XIV. For ITC, Kenya was the first country where we launched ITC's Ethical Fashion Initiative which links many hundreds of Kenyan micro entrepreneurs to global fashion buyers, and with thousands of women and families positively impacted. Last year, a Kenyan woman-run company was the winner of ITC’s first-ever global tech challenge to develop a digital platform to support women-owned businesses. In essence Kenyan is an example of how women can empower and be empowered in a country. You have much to share with the rest of the world.
In ITC's recent report on “Unlocking Markets for Women to Trade” one of the facts that stands out for me is that out of the developing countries surveyed, Kenya has the highest percentage of women-owned or managed exporting firms.
But as they say 'a woman's work is never done' so too working for women empowerment is never done!
There are still some areas that require attention and I'm confident as I look on this sea of powerful women and men gender champions in front of me today that next year Kenya will rank even higher than 25 out of 145 countries in the latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report in terms of how level the playing field is for men and women with respect to “economic participation and opportunity”.
Given that a small island state such as Barbados carries a ranking of 2; or a least developed country such as Lao PDR bears a ranking of 11; or that other African countries close by such as Rwanda or Malawi have a ranking of 14 and 12 respectively – then I know it is possible to constantly improve on the metrics, policies and practices for closing the gender gap as a means to achieving gender parity including through Goal 5 of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The ITC SheTrades Initiative to bring one million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020 is ITC’s response to Goal 5. With the launch of ITC SheTrades, we are fully committed to supporting women entrepreneurs through the seven (7) SheTrades pillars, namely: championing quality data; promoting fair policies; supporting women’s participation in government procurement as well as in corporate procurement; promoting access to financial services; and supporting women ownership rights. We see this as a form of GPS to guide us all in the right direction and to tell us when we have reached our destination or have taken a wrong term.
Here today, I am really pleased to launch our partnership with Barclays Bank of Kenya. In December when ITC hosted the Women in Business event with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and key local partners Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the Export Promotion Council, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Barclays, the bank made a verbal commitment to support SheTrades.
Over the months this has concretised into what we are doing today. This is tangible public-private sector collaboration in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment in economic life. I salute Barclays Kenya for leading on this and for the commitment you are showing today to link women and women owned SMEs to government or corporate buyers and unlock access to the financial services which they need.
You have committed to bring at least 10,000 women entrepreneurs to market over the next 4 years through various forms of support including, but not limited to, delivering technical trainings and webinars; facilitating business linkages through trade and investment support institutions and directly with women-run companies; making loans more readily available; and working closely with women entrepreneurs in Kenya to improve their competitiveness both in the financial marketplace and the consumer marketplace. I take good note of the term 'at least'.
You are an example for others to follow and I call on other private sector entities in Kenya and around the world to also consider how they can do their part for women's economic empowerment.
Our teams of technical experts and business generation and financial services advisers look forward to rolling up our sleeves, and kicking off our heals, to work closely with you as we move to our target of getting 1 million women to market.
I thank Kenya for its leadership, our partners for their continued collaboration and Barclays Kenya for remaining true to their word to support SheTrades.