New Plans For Women In LDCs To Win More Tenders
9 January 2012
The International Trade Centre (ITC), the Geneva-based joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations, has started looking into the issue of women missing out on lucrative procurement and government contracts, a common problem especially in least developed countries.
Speaking at the just-concluded 2011 roundtable on government procurement on sourcing from women vendors in Geneva, Switzerland, the ITC Executive Director, Patricia R. Francis, said more government contracts should be awarded to female entrepreneurs, particularly in developing and least developed countries (LDCs) like Uganda, as they learn about the ins and outs of the procurement process and acquire the necessary skills.
"We need a proactive process to let women understand what the opportunities are, work with them on ensuring that they meet standards required for procurement and to get them networked together", Francis said at the roundtable held on the sidelines of the 8th WTO's ministerial conference.
Susan Muhwezi, Uganda's Special Presidential Assistant on African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Trade, said women need to engage in better trainings to increase their prospects, and their potential to bid and win Government contracts. She said this presents an economic opportunity for growth. Muhwezi said the roundtable to help businesses run by women was welcome.
"It is important to note that an initiative that creates purchasing criteria for women businesses to win a percentage of Government contracts in particular sectors is an effective way to change current international trends that limit their access to these contracts currently" she said.
Robert Anderson, a counsellor in the WTOís intellectual property division, said women in Africa must focus on selling goods and services internationally. "We have to begin locally, but to really enrich and carry forward the development project and the empowerment project, it's important that women suppliers in Africa shouldnít only be thinking about supplying their own governments", Anderson said.
The roundtable cited that while women have full or partial ownership of more than a third of businesses worldwide, they win only one percent of government contracts because of a myriad of difficulties, lack of understanding and interferences.
"Education and outreach will be the keys to teaching women about the procurement process and helping to ensure that at least five percent of government contracts are awarded to women within seven years", Francis, the ITC boss, said.
SOURCE: The Observer
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