Access to finance biggest challenge to Business women in Africa
Inadequate finance and information are among the leading non-tariff barriers (NTBs) facing African businesswomen and may undermine the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), according to an advocate for businesswomen on the continent.
Speaking at a webinar on the Trade Easier platform, a mechanism for reporting, monitoring and eliminating NTBs under AfCFTA, the Executive Director of the Pan African Business Women’s Association (PABWA), Yavi Madurai, said the problem of gender inequality, corruption, and lack of trust between women and border officials were among other barriers.
“Access to finance is the biggest challenge to women in business in Africa,” she said, a position supported by Ruramiso Mashumba, a Zimbabwean businesswoman and farmer who said African financial institutions had not been friendly in lending to small and micro-scale businesses, making it difficult for them to raise funds for their operations.
Speaking on the trade easier mechanism, African Union customs expert Willie Shumba said the platform would help to resolve NTBs that will surface as trading begins under AfCFTA, especially the long delays at land borders that disproportionately hurt majority female traders.
But for the scheme to be effective, it must ensure speedy response to complaints of the traders, said Jacob Makambwe, Secretary General of the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) African countries could gain $20 billion each year by tackling NTBs – much more than the $3.6 billion they could gain by eliminating tariffs.