Majority of Women-led businesses have agreed that the AfCFTA is a good initiative but observed that accessing its benefits is a major challenge.
A new report by Finance and Management Company, AYA Institute, has identified that majority of women traders and women-led businesses cited higher taxes as one of the challenges they face in a bid to take advantage of the trade agreement.
Other challenges identified in the survey include insufficient and inaccessible funds, macroeconomic instability, transportation, COVID-19 and difficulty in understanding AfCFTA protocols among others.
The new report revealed that majority of women traders and women-led businesses are unaware of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – a year after its commencement. Specifically, the report found that about 72% of traders and 54% of companies are unaware of the AfCFTA.
The report, titled, ‘Assessing The Potential of Women-led MSMEs in Ghana to Take Advantage of AfCFTA’, also pointed out that traders and women-led firms complained of not having sufficient time to prepare for the start of the AfCFTA.
Need for immediate sensitization
Providing more explanation, a researcher with the AYA Institute, Eunice Panyin Offei said, “there is the need for immediate sensitization for women-led businesses to know about the opportunities it presents”.
Madam Eunice Panyin Offei further said “The other major thing we found was lack of financial assistance. Government should provide financial assistance or make it favorable to enable women access loans to fund their businesses to expand and grow”.
Meanwhile, Marketing Manager of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Grace Dzeble, seized the opportunity to advise women in MSMEs to consider collaborations to enable them access funds.
“When you pool resources together, it is always better than one person operating a business. The challenge in our part of the world is that, people want to own 100% of a 100-cedi-business than to own one percent of a million-dollar business. It is very important that the women partner, so they can be able to benefit from synergies among themselves”.Grace Dzeble
Steps to support women-led agribusinesses
Outlining some measures to remedy the situation, Sector Chair for Agribusiness under the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Fatima Mohammed, said her outfit is implementing steps to support women-led agribusinesses under AfCFTA.
“At the AGI, we have a wing for women in business including women in agribusiness. We have a lot of interventions, workshops and conversations to better equip them as my outfit is more of a policy implementer. However, we link them to agencies like the GIZ where they get financial support or training in whatever area they need”.Fatima Mohammed
The research was supported by the German Cooperation, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the AGI.
The general objectives of the AfCFTA agreement, which was signed in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018, among many others include, the creation of a single market for goods and services, and the facilitation of the movement of persons.
Trading under the AfCFTA commenced on January 1, 2021, in line with the decisions of the 13th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in December 2020. So far, 54 African countries are signatories to the AfCFTA Agreement with 42 countries ratifying the Agreement, and 39 becoming State Parties.