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Commonwealth boost for women’s export businesses

16 January 2012
Women entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean will participate at Europe’s largest buyers fair following sponsorship from the Commonwealth Secretariat

Nine women entrepreneurs from across the Commonwealth will exhibit their products at Europe’s largest buyers fair next month as part of a project to sensitise officials to the effects of trade policy on women.

The exhibitors – from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean – are being sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat to participate in the week-long 2012 Spring Fair International in Birmingham, UK, which is expected to attract around 3,000 traders and over 73,000 buyers.

The project includes a training workshop on gender and trade which will be attended by both officials and the women exhibitors.

“It aims to make policy-makers more aware of the gender impact of trade strategies and their implementation,” said Sarah Kitakule, Adviser at the Secretariat’s Gender Section.

“Gender inequality and the impact of trade liberalisation policies mean that women producers often struggle to secure the resources they need to develop their businesses properly and to compete on an international scale.

“It is hoped that through this sponsorship these fledgling women-owned businesses will have the opportunity to gain exposure to the international marketplace.”

The women entrepreneurs will be exhibiting at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham from 5 to 9 February 2012. Their products range from jewellery to body care products and accessories.

"Supporting Commonwealth female entrepreneurs to exhibit at Spring Fair International, displays our new strategic vision to build capacity beyond workshops; whereby we can monitor the impact of women entrepreneurs for the long-term," said Dr Sylvia Anie, the Director responsible for the Secretariat's Gender, Health and Education sections.

Spring Fair International has a reputation for attracting a wide mix of international and UK buyers from multi-chain retail stores to independent boutiques.