Happy International Women’s Day

Good recipes for strengthening the private sector and women businesses in developing countries

Chamber Trade Sweden presents inspiring results from its cooperation with 9 business member organizations in Africa and Iraq from 2012-2016. The women’s economic empowerment component has had an outreach to over 30 business member organizations, 15 countries and 100 participants.

The program has focused on strengthening business services, policy advocacy and networking with importance for business member organisations and their support to their member companies, SMEs and the private sector as a whole in developing countries.

A uniting challenge the business member organizations and networks is to add value to your members and the business community. Another common challenge is how to promote job creation and competitiveness. From the business side, it is important to remind governments that real growth and sustainable job creation can only come from growth in the private sector on a competitive market. There are no short-cuts to this!

Some key results from the report:

  • Global ambassadors network for women’s economic empowerment – The most popular and successful part of our cooperation program has undoubtedly been the women’s economic empowerment network we have built during these years together with our business member organization partners. During these four years, we have gathered our women business network in South Africa, in Indonesia and in Stockholm. Through this work, we have built a unique platform to promote women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in developing countries with over 100 business women from 30 business organizations and over 15 countries. This network is an asset not only for our partners in developing countries but also for business and chambers in Sweden.
  • Leadership through mentorship – Our Train the Trainers on setting up mentorship programs, has continued to evolve and be offered to companies as a service for the chambers in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Iraq as well as in East Africa through the African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN). The service provides a great added value for both younger and older entrepreneurs and business people which get inspiration to develop. It is also a great service for the BMO to offer its members.
  • Advocacy and training on sustainable industrial development – Our partner organizations have sharpened their ability to work with competitiveness issues and policy advocacy to strengthen the private sector and and industrial development. Specific issues in focus have been the importance of increased regional trade and removal of trade barriers, discriminatory taxes, labor market regulations, as well as sustainability, health and safety. One example is the SSA regional trade report showing the importance of harmonizing and promoting internal trade in Africa. Another example is the report on taxes and competitiveness for Zambia.
  • Promoting an efficient commercial dispute resolution through arbitration and mediation (Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR) plays a major role for business, trade and investment as it provides efficiency and predictability in solving business conflicts. ADR is also a so-called third-party services and revenue for the chambers of commerce. The program has greatly strengthened the ADR capacity for the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce (AACCSA). It has also helped the Zambian Chamber of Commerce to take an important step forward to build up an independent arbitration institute.
  • Promoting market access and direct trade with the Nordic market. An important part of the program results is tied to increased market access and direct trade with Sweden and the Nordic market. Several trade delegations have visited Sweden from East Africa, including Ethiopia, and from Iraq. Direct trade deals have resulted from this for instance for flower and coffee exports from Ethiopia to Sweden, for fresh fruits and vegetables from Kenya to Sweden, and in the area of green technology with Iraq. During the program, we have published several market reports in areas of importance for developing countries like lifestyle products and agribusiness, as well as report on green technology and regional trade.
  • Knowledge and investment in sustainability and green technology – Environmental issues, including environmental technologies in the energy sector, but also widely linked to sustainability. An important result has been the women green technology ambassadors in East Africa which have inspired women in agribusiness to invest in green energy solutions. Another result has been the actions taken on waste management and cleaner production which has led to several companies strengthening their environmental work. Another major result has been the green technology investment made by the Ethiopian flower farmers as a result of their business member organization EHPEA’s training on composting and treatment of waste water.
  • Proactive work on leadership and ethics has been taken by several of the business member organizations and individual businesses. We would especially like to highlight the work of the Zambian Chamber of Commerce, which has developed and adopted a Code of Good Conduct for Ethics, which immediately had a positive impact for their board and general assembly.

The Chamber Academy Program has been financed in cooperation with Sida. We are proud to share with you our full-length results report. Read more here – CTS Final Report – Private Sector Capacity Building

For questions – charlotte.kalin@chambertrade.se