Archive for the ‘International Women’s Day’ Category


Historic Year for Women Continues between the U.S., Africa and Middle East with Economic Empowerment Dialogues

March 31, 2021

Camille Richardson is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Middle East & Africa

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In the United States, 2021 is shaping up to be a historic year for women. For those of us in the field of trade, to have women appointed to key Cabinet positions this month, including Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative is a great honor and reflection of our values as a nation. At the International Trade Administration (ITA), we are committed to empowering women in business, exporting and entrepreneurship in the U.S. across the world, including in the Africa and the Middle East—a region of significant trade growth and investment.

The statistics may surprise you. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 29 percent of all small, medium, and large firms are owned by women. In Kenya, for example, between 2000 and 2019, the percentage of women wage and salary earners doubled from 20 to 40 percent, giving Kenya’s female labor force the highest participation rate, at 24 percent, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What’s also impressive, here in the U.S., between 2014 and 2019, women-led businesses outstripped the total population of U.S. businesses in terms of growth in the number of businesses created, the number of jobs created, and total revenue generated. However, only 12 percent of women owned companies exported – foregoing the higher-revenues and increased number of jobs created through trade.

Empowering Women through Trade and Investment

Supporting the growth and success of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. and overseas is key to our economic recovery and is precisely why ITA created WELLTI: Women Empowered Leave Legacies through Trade and Investment. As part of this initiative, this year we launched a series of ‘Coffee Chats’ to connect women in the United States and countries throughout Africa and the Middle East to discuss shared challenges and opportunities to grow business through trade and investment activities. I’ve had the privilege of moderating these discussions and am grateful to all those who participated.

At our inaugural meeting in January, we spotlighted Kenya and highlighted the work of Dr. Joyce Gikunda, the founder of Linton’s Beauty World, who grew her beauty and cosmetics business into a line of pharmacies by importing products from the U.S.  Our top Commercial Diplomat in Kenya, Diane Jones, organized the event and discussed on the ground resources for U.S. women entrepreneurs looking for business connections.

In March, our Commercial post in Kenya co-hosted another event with Kayana Create to support women importers in Kenya looking to buy more products from the U.S.  This event was attended by participants representing a wide variety of sectors and was a wonderful opportunity for Kenyan businesswomen to learn how to source goods and services from the United States.

Also, in celebration of Women’s History Month, we featured two women entrepreneurs from Ethiopia: Felekeche Biratu, co-founder of the Yenae Collection, and Sarah Yirga, founder of Ya Coffee Roaster and Ethiopia Women in Coffee who, through trade and investment with the United States, have positioned their products for sale with high end brands such as Hilton Hotels. Our top Commercial Diplomat in Ethiopia, Yasue Pai, coordinated that event, and hosted a special webinar highlighting the positive impact that female entrepreneurship can have on economic recovery and growth and participating in corporate global supply chains. Women-owned businesses have been especially hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. These virtual coffee chats are just one way that ITA is supporting these businesses. Entrepreneurs in Ethiopia and across the U.S. participated in this virtual chat.

To wrap up this month’s celebration, the Department of Commerce’s President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa is holding a virtual panel event today, March 31. Enabling Women Entrepreneurs in U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment will bring together women entrepreneurs and senior officials from the United States and Africa to discuss policies and programs that should be developed or strengthened in both markets to address the constraints women-owned businesses face in international trade. The conversation will also include practical insights from notable U.S. and African women entrepreneurs and feature remarks from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Lazarus Amayo.

Continuing the Effort

We have mapped out our Coffee Chat series featuring a market or topic each month through February 2022 leading up to a special women-focused event as part of our Trade Winds 2022 Trade Mission and Business Forum taking place in Dubai March 6-8. We are doing all of this because we believe that women will play a key role in global economic recovery in a post-pandemic world.

When women are given the right tools, information, and connections, they become empowered to make economies stronger and increase workforce productivity. Women are built to be resilient and ITA stands ready to empower women, who are passionate about what they do, so the contributions they make will help us to build back better in a post-pandemic world.


Unleash your inner global business goddess in three easy steps

March 12, 2021

Tricia Van Orden is Deputy Director of ITA’s Trade Promotion Coordination Committee Secretariat

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy. 

In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, the International Trade Administration will spotlight content and resources on our website on women in trade, business, and entrepreneurship throughout the month of March. Learn more about the United Nations observance of this day.

Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live beyond the U.S. borders, and modern technology has made it easier than ever to reach them. Be the global business goddess you’ve always dreamed of by following these three tips:

Female executive holding a coffee mug that says "Like A Boss" on it. Souce:

1. Start with what you know and leverage others’ knowledge.  Whether it’s tapping into big data from online platforms to gain market insights or scheduling a meeting with a business counselor at a local Women’s Business Center, learn how to take advantage of the vast array of resources ready to help you. A plethora of online tools and trade professionals are available to help women-led startups and small businesses find success in international markets. The U.S. Government, and in many areas, State and local governments, offers free training and counseling to develop an international business plan to get started doing business globally. A great first step is finding your local Small Business Development Center and taking advantage of their online and in-person resources. Additionally, District Export Councils are comprised of exporters and export service providers who promote exporting in their local business communities, including through education and mentoring. You can put this network to use as you craft your international business plan. 

If your startup or small business has done business in one or two foreign markets and you’re interested in finding new opportunities and expanding sales, get in touch with your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center, staffed by ITA professionals whose mission is to help you develop your export plan.

2. Know when to seek the counsel of a lawyer you trust. International business can be complicated, and you need to ensure your ideas, trademarks, and copyrights are protected and that you’re compliant with applicable U.S. and foreign laws. Professional legal guidance will help you find the right path. Until you’re ready for that step, peruse the business guide to intellectual property on Another resource is the Export Legal Assistance Network, a network of attorneys who volunteer their time to provide an initial legal consultation free of charge to new exporters to assist with issues related to export licensing, taxation, tariffs, and intellectual property.

3. It’s never too late to go back to school.  Your campus days might be behind you, but local universities and community colleges often provide opportunities for business expansion. You might find your next partner or investor at a networking event, and many schools offer international immersion programs that can broaden your global mindset and help you make connections in markets of interest. At many business schools, students team up with local companies to conduct market research and develop market entry strategies.  Companies interested in exporting can take advantage of these cooperative agreements and receive market research products either free of charge or for a very low fee.

You can hear directly from women entrepreneurs who used these strategies to build global businesses by joining Startup Global: Women Go Global, a free program that will take place on Thursday, March 18 at 2:00PM EST. Think of it as global business goddess bootcamp. In 90 minutes, you’ll learn the ins and outs of starting a global business from day one from women who have been there. Hear about their challenges, what they learned along the way, and how they emerged triumphant.

Startup Global is a collaboration between the International Trade Administration and the Global Innovation Forum that provides focused advice to small and early-stage U.S. companies looking to grow their businesses by engaging in the global marketplace.  Startup Global offers educational seminars and connects entrepreneurs to the tools and experts they need to grow a global business. In honor of International Women’s Day, Startup Global has created a special program for all the global business goddesses out there. Register for the online event by visiting


Start a New Global Business Habit This Year

March 8, 2021

Meet two women business leaders who achieved success expanding their sales overseas

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Tricia Van Orden is Deputy Director of ITA’s Trade Promotion Coordination Committee Secretariat

In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, the International Trade Administration will spotlight content and resources on our website on women in trade, business, and entrepreneurship throughout the month of March. Learn more about the United Nations observance of this day.

Image showing outline of a women with the words Happy International Women's Day March 8

Getting started with anything new can seem overwhelming, whether it pertains to your personal life or your business.  The International Trade Administration can’t help you start a daily flossing habit, but we can help you plan for your global business expansion. If you’ve never considering taking your business global, we have just what you need to research, plan, and execute, all broken into manageable steps.

Today, it’s easier and more practical than ever to sell goods and services across the globe. Most of the world’s potential consumers are outside of the United States, and the global affinity for Made in USA products and services is second to none. Many U.S. companies boost their bottom line and build their competitiveness by selling to world markets, and you can too.

This March, in honor of International Women’s Day, we invite you to learn about women who have taken their businesses global, and we welcome you to explore all the expertise, tools, and resources that the International Trade Administration provides to help you do the same.

For Janet Ryan, the President of SpectraSpray, a New Jersey-based company that creates oral spray vitamins, the first step in her exporting journey was attending a women’s entrepreneurship event. It was there that Janet met an International Trade Administration trade expert, who advised on market opportunities and provided information on everything from product registration to pricing strategies. When Janet was ready for the next step, she was connected to our team in Asia, who helped SpectraSpray participate in an international trade show. At the trade show, SpectraSpray caught the attention of a Singapore distributor with whom they now have an exclusive distributorship. In a few easy steps, Janet leveraged the International Trade Administration’s network of experts to take her business global. This is just the beginning of Janet’s new global business habit. She says, “I’ve learned a great deal from each of you and will now use that knowledge going forward.”

For Kusum Kavia, Co-Founder and President of Combustion Associates, Inc., a California-based power generation company, going global was always a calling. Born in Kenya, Kusum moved to the United States and started a business with her husband. She was always drawn to do business in Africa. After initially exporting to West Africa, Kusum was able to create high-paying engineering and manufacturing jobs to support even more international sales. She worked with the International Trade Administration to expand international sales and to support infrastructure needs across Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, ninety percent of Combustion Associates, Inc. customers are outside the United States, and international sales support more than 100 jobs in the United States. Kusum credits the International Trade Administration’s help with this success, and she says, “For companies that are looking to stretch and export to Sub-Saharan Africa, I would say the first thing to do is to call the U.S. Commercial Service.” Janet and Kusum leveraged the market knowledge, global business insights, and networks of the International Trade Administration, and they took their businesses global in a big way. You can do it too. Make today the first day of your new global business habit with the International Trade Administration. We are in the business of helping your business succeed, so head over to to start your journey. We promise the first step is easier than remembering to floss every night.