Across Western Africa, women entrepreneurs often are confronted with challenges to expand their successful small businesses. Despite evidence of strong growth potential, women-owned businesses continue to encounter difficulties accessing finance and support services. They also lack information to expand their businesses beyond traditional markets. As palm oil producer and business owner Tahara Haidara Diallo recalls,
“The lack of expertise in international trade and capacity deficiencies limited our farmers and other producers from taking advantage of new market opportunities”.
Although her product had the potential to be sold in other markets, she was unaware of how to take advantage of preferential access in competitive foreign markets. In an effort to support women entrepreneurs expand their businesses, the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub provides assistance to increase their access to markets and improve access to financing. For Tahara’s palm oil business in Guinea, Tahara & Fils, the Trade Hub provided technical assistance to her company on how
to export her products duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Trade Hub not only assisted in the necessary documentation to export under AGOA but also helped register the product under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thanks to the technical assistance provided by the Trade Hub’s AGOA Specialist, Tahara’s business shipped its first container of crude palm oil to a distributor in Maryland worth over $40,000.
“With the support of the Trade Hub, we have learned how to apply strict quality criteria, fill out required documentation, and improve our commercial export billing process.” Tahara explains, “These exports enable our growth and investments in new markets and gives more value to our products.”
In addition to technical assistance, the Trade Hub also partners with women-owned businesses to generate new private investment, create jobs, and increase trade in West Africa. Thanks to its Co-Investment fund, the Trade Hub will provide grants to dynamic and innovative businesses to expand their activities across numerous business networks, such as agriculture, apparel, and renewable energy.
By helping businesses like Tahara & Fils export to the United States, the Trade Hub advances the U.S. Government’s Iniciativa Próspera África to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
By connecting businesses with new trade and investment opportunities, Prosper Africa drives shared
economic growth and prosperity in the United States and Africa. In addition, many Trade Hub partnerships also advance the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP) by supporting women-owned businesses and women’s empowerment. At least 20,000 new jobs will be created for women in the region, thanks to the Trade Hub support.