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Women in International Trade, District Export Council, U.S. Department of Commerce Team Up for Program on Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa

May 2, 2018

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This is a guest blog submitted by the Association of Women in International Trade, Washington, DC.

Photo of participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel posing with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel pose with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

On March 15, the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), in partnership with the Virginia/Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, Northern Virginia office, hosted a program on U.S.-Africa partnership and women’s economic empowerment.

Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships was held in connection with International Women’s Day, and highlighted growing opportunities for women-owned businesses to expand their export bases into Africa.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross delivered the opening remarks, and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh moderated the subsequent panel discussion, featuring voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Addressing the roughly 150 guests in attendance, Secretary Ross shared his insights on the growing opportunities for women-owned business to go global. He specifically advocated for women to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that exist for American businesses to find new markets and effectively compete in Africa.

Following Secretary Ross’s remarks, Assistant Secretary Walsh opened the panel discussion, congratulating the Washington, D.C. WIIT for celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2017. She noted that only 12 percent of U.S. exporters are women-owned, compared to 20 percent of exporters worldwide. Further, only one percent of all U.S. SMEs export overseas.

“We must change these statistics,” Walsh said.

The following people participated in the panel discussion:

  • E. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, Permanent Representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the United States;
  • Mary Bezzini, President of Godman Power Group, Inc.;
  • Mucha Mlingo, President of OWIT Nairobi;
  • Thione Niang, Founder of the Give1Project;
  • Florie Liser, President & CEO, Corporate Council on Africa.

Interested in Exporting to Africa?

If you are considering entering or expanding into African markets, there are many ways in which the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service can help you achieve your goals.

Country commercial guides are available for most African countries. To talk to someone locally about exporting, contact the U.S. Commercial Service in your area.

You can also use the U.S. Commercial Service to help you develop an export strategy and promote your brand for targeted African countries.