TradeMark Africa hosts Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African women traders

Nairobi, 21 July: TradeMark Africa (TMA) today hosted the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, H.E. Lilianne Ploumen at a women and trade fair in Nairobi. The fair showcased work of women beneficiaries from the Dutch funded East African Women and Trade programme. The US$ 4.5 million programme, which was launched in October 2015, aims to reach 25,000 women in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Burundi, by the end of 2017. Among the distinguished guests was the TMA board advisor and former Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Pascal Lamy and TMA Director General David Stanton, among other dignitaries.

H.E Ploumen walked around the market, interacting with the women traders listening to their stories of success and sometimes tears. Mariam Babu, the chairperson of Busia Cross Border traders summarized some of the challenges as: a disconnect between border officials and women traders, sexual harassment while plying the trading routes and lack of access to market information.

While interacting with the women, Ms Ploumen commented that it was important to support the women in trade as, Women own over 40% of businesses in East Africa and research shows that empowering women to trade is good for the economy, good for society and good for women. Despite the prevalence of women owned SMEs and the growth potential offered by the target sectors, they face significant constraints to their competitiveness and participation in trade. The Women and Trade program which aims at addressing these challenges to enhance trade which in turn improves their incomes and livelihood. ‘’

Addressing the plenary at the event, TMA Director General David Stanton said that TMA was committed in increasing its support to women, with a vision of reaching at least 1 million more women in the organisation phase 2 programme.

On the sidelines of the tour, TMA signed a US$ 500,000 MOU agreement with the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the Women and Trade programme. The program will support 800 women owned SMEs to access international markets with the mission of fostering inclusive and sustainable economic development. The partners will work to improve export opportunities for women’s enterprises in East Africa, and strengthening the capacity of institutions and associations to effectively support women entrepreneurs.

TMA the largest Aid for Trade organisation globally contributes to growing prosperity in East Africa through trade and economic development and works closely with East African Community (EAC) member states, institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations to promote trade through increased physical access to markets, enhanced trade environment and improved business competitiveness.


TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.