“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”
—Secretary-General Kofi Annan

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, March 8, 2022, the staff of the USAID West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) would like to use the occasion to salute women across the world, who, as this day’s theme captures, are helping to “break the bias” in every sector. We also celebrate the women entrepreneurs partnering with us to boost economic growth and development in their respective countries and the region as a whole.

Equally, we give thanks for the many innovative, dedicated, and incredibly smart women who help run our project. Businesses and organizations like the Trade Hub operating in the trade and investment sector are widely dominated by men. But the Trade Hub is dominated only by people seeking to make a positive, long-lasting impact in the 14 West African countries we work in. We are very proud to note that nearly one-third of our staff are women, and one-third of our senior-level staff are women as well, including our Deputy Chief of Party. We expect this number to grow as we grow.

Our commitment to gender equity within the Trade Hub reflects our focus on addressing and negating biases, stereotypes, and discrimination that work against women developing their full potential and contributing meaningfully to their societies. As a project, the Trade Hub’s two-pronged integration strategy focuses on equal access to resources and the empowerment of women and youth. In fact, the Trade Hub prioritizes the funding of co-investment grants for projects that are centered on promoting women’s and youths’ equity, as well as financial inclusion.

In addition, as part of its work, the Trade Hub brings the business case for ensuring opportunities for women to private sector companies, to key business networks, and to organizations seeking to do business with the Trade Hub or its co-investment partners.

Today, as we affirm our commitment to promoting businesses and investments that support women, we also call upon our partners to ensure we work together to achieve our shared objectives and dreams.

Together, we can work towards a gender equal world:

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

—West Africa Trade & Investment Staff