THE GHANA Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has endorsed the continuation of an economic empowerment programme designed and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) to increase the participation of women-owned businesses in international trade.

The SheTrades initiative is aimed at connecting about three million women to the global market while addressing trade barriers and creating greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

In Ghana for instance, the programme, which was launched in June 2018 and ended in March 2021, has supported about 400 small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) within the Agribusiness, Textiles and Apparels, Tourism and Information Technology (IT) sectors.

A total sale of $7.1 million was generated with trade leads amounting to U$6.3 million and the creation of 762 jobs.

Interventions under the programme have also helped three Ghanaian SME products receive organic certification on the international market.

Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Dr Afua Asabea Asare, announced the decision at a meeting with the Executive Director of ITC, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, and some beneficiaries of the project.

“Because of the interest we have in it, GEPA said we will take it on board to continue from where ITC will end. And since we continue to work with ITC, it means ITC will still be looking at Shetrades while it allows us to take charge of it,” she said.

She urged SMEs to register with the export authority in other to take advantage of opportunities the organisation had to offer businesses in terms of technical support, negotiations and access to finance

Ms Coke-Hamilton, who welcomed the decision of GEPA to take over the initiative, said “It was a powerful example of not just willingness to build institutional capacity but to also take ownership of what Ghana’s future women will be.”

She noted that the upcoming World Trade Promotion Organisation Conference in 2022, which is to be hosted by Ghana in either May or June, also presented an opportunity for women-owned businesses to network and showcase their skills and products.

The industrialisation agenda of government, coupled with an SME strategy, she said will be helpful towards building a good governmental ecosystem that will be facilitated by institutional partners like GEPA.

Beneficiaries expressed their gratitude to the ITC and GEPA for the opportunity to leverage on networks and knowhow that have inured to improved sales, high product value and better operational efficiencies.

Emi-Beth Quantson, a beneficiary of the project and a coffee dealer, also appealed to implementers of the project to focus more on helping women-owned businesses in the coffee industry towards improving coffee production.