In East Africa, cross-border trade is characterized by inefficiencies, high transaction costs and low competitiveness. Studies have shown that cross-border traders lack business management skills and knowledge on the requirements to trade across borders. Traders also confront high storage costs and handling loses through spillage, pest damage and contamination, which lower the quality and quantity of grains and diminish profits.
Informal cross-border trade is estimated to account for up to 60 percent of all intra-regional trade in the EAC and women are estimated to compose 80 percent of all informal traders. Empowering women to use formal trade channels helps them to take advantage of cross-border trade facilities and leaves them less vulnerable to actors that prey upon the disenfranchised.
Over the last year, the USAID Hub has partnered with organizations such as the Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK) to link cross-border traders to financial institutions and markets; built the capacity of cross-border traders by training them on enterprise management and structured marketing systems; and laid the groundwork for the East Africa Cross Border Traders Association (EACBTA). Watch the video below to learn more about the impact of the training from a cross-border at the Kenya-Uganda border.
This year, the Hub through a grant with Agribusiness Focused Partnership Organization (AGRIFOP) is expanding its reach to the Rwanda-Tanzania women cross-border traders who specialize in grain, fruits and vegetables. Through the Cross-Border Women Traders’ Capacity Building Project, AGRIFOP will provide training on cross-border trade requirements, procedures, documentation and regulations, grain quality standards and warehouse management. This activity aims to link the cross-border traders to EACBTA, giving them a stronger voice in the East African Community and a platform to participate in the formulation of trade policies.