The initiative was launched recently in Kigali, Rwanda at the fifth executive roundtable on sourcing from women vendors.
Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa opened the event which brought together over 50 decision makers in governments, corporations, trade support institutions and women’s associations.
In her remarks, Gasinzigwa welcomed the initiative, emphasising that Rwanda still has some way to go despite its achievements in empowering women.
“Some of the main causes of the limited share of women in accessing procurement contracts are limited information on procurement guidelines and regulations, limited knowledge about selection and bidding procedures and lack of affirmative action in the procurement regulations and procedures,” she said.
Gasinzigwa added that there is a need to come up with strategic policies to uplift women so that they can compete with their male counterparts.
According to the ITC, only an estimated one percent of public-procurement contracts globally are awarded to women owned business or women entrepreneurs. To this the ITC Executive Director Arancha González said, “Women account for half the world’s population and have a concrete role to play in economic development.” She urged participants to work together to improve the one percent of public procurement that finds its way to women-owned businesses.
ITC noted: there are eight to ten million women-owned SMEs in developing countries, representing about a third of all SMEs. However, only small shares of procurement contracts, around only one percent of government contracts, are awarded to them.
“It is not about charity, it is about bridging the gap between making trade possible and making trade happen, said Arancha González, Executive Director of the ITC.
In addition to the initiative, a guide to help governments develop guidelines for public procurement was unveiled. The guidelines will facilitate the sourcing of more goods and services from women entrepreneurs by addressing the challenges they commonly face in accessing and participating in public procurement.
The initiative is envisioned to help increase the participation of women-owned businesses, not only in public procurement, but also in public decision-making in Africa.