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    In Africa, ITC Promotes Services Exports by Women Entrepreneurs


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2003

    The First Lady, Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo

    Workshops in Nigeria, Mauritius and Mozambique took place in February as part of ITC's work to promote gender in trade development and increase exports of services from developing countries. The workshops were aimed at women entrepreneurs offering business services, such as information technology, legal, accounting, translation, design, etc.

    Business services represent the fastest-growing component of international trade. In Nigeria, the initiative was launched by the First Lady, Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo.

    Over 150 entrepreneurs attended the sessions, which offered practical tips on topics such as international partnering, relationship marketing and effective networking techniques. Several strategies were also suggested to engage women entrepreneurs in the mainstream business community since, on average, less than 5% of participants in ITC's previously-offered services export workshops have been women. Yet, most of the firms exporting services worldwide are owned by women, and they are often very small (less than five employees). In addition, it is estimated that over 75% of women-owned business are in the service sector.

    Due to the fact that numerous service sectors were represented at the workshops, several preliminary partnership discussions were initiated among the participants.

    In an effort to continue these well-received workshops in regional locations of the countries, training modules were provided by ITC's Trade in Services Unit to various trade support institutions such as services industry and women entrepreneurs' associations.