At the end of July 2018, USAID Hub partnered with the Agribusiness Focused Partnership Organization (AGRIFOP) to conduct a capacity-building session for 50 cross-border women traders along the Rusumo border of Rwanda and Tanzania. The training, conducted at the Rusumo One Stop Border Post, covered topics on cross-border trade requirements, procedures, documentation and regulations, East African Community grain quality standards, financial literacy and business management.
Participants were delighted to engage with border officials, food and safety officers and representatives from the revenue authorities who explained the process of formal cross-border trade and answered their questions. They also learned about warehouse receipt systems that can enable their association receive financing from banks with their stored grains as collateral.
“We were sensitized on structured trading and how it helps one to easily access markets. I also learned the benefit of joining trading groups and associations as this makes access to finance easier. For example, if a client needs products in bulk and you don’t have enough stock you can visit a fellow member of the group to assist in sustaining the order,” said Mukarutesi Annasiatha, cross-border grain trader in Rusumo, Rwanda.
Like many cross-border traders, Rwandan and Tanzanian women traders face various challenges, including 1) a lack of storage facilities, 2) a lack of information and 3) high charges by middlemen to sell their products across the border. With a Rwanda border official present, participants were assured that their issues would be addressed. “We are ready to address the challenges you face at the border. The border is supportive of this training because cross-border traders are our partners. We are here because of you,” said Janvier Nsengimana, Director of Immigration, Rusumo border- Rwanda.
“One of the main challenges we face is the lack of adequate market access, capital and storage facilities. However, we are glad the Rusumo One Stop Border Post was established as it enables us to conduct twenty-four hour business,” said Christina Radisausi, a cross-border grain trader in Rusumo, Tanzania.
This training workshop is the first activity under a USAID Hub grant to AGRIFOP. Through this grant, the Hub aims to increase cross-border trade in staple foods by building the capacity of rural cross-border traders in the EAC and facilitating linkages to both the financial services and market opportunities they need for greater participation in the formal sector.