COMESA institutions have joined the efforts towards supporting the governments in their host countries in the fight against the Coronavirus. Among those that have so far contributed to this cause are the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM), the COMESA Competition Commission (CCC) and the Trade and Development Bank.
FEMCOM donated USD 7000 worth of personal protective equipment, hygiene kit comprising soaps, sanitizers, masks and gowns in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The donation was made through the DRC FEMCOM chapter, to the Presidents of Associations of Women Traders and Small Market Farmers Agribusinesses for further distribution to their members who deal in vegetables and fruits.
In Malawi, the Director of the CCC Mr George Lipimile made a $5000 donation which was received by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon Salim Ibrahim Bagus.
In Kenya, the Trade Development Bank donated 140,000 locally made face masks worth over $100,000 to Kenyan health workers. To support the private sector, the masks were procured from the Kitui County Textile Centre (KICOTEC).
In DRC, the FEMCOM donation was made by the Chairperson of the DRC Chapter Eliane Munkeni Kiekie who is the FEMCOM Board Vice Chair. The items will support women traders, small farmers and market gardeners and other micro businesses that operate at a pavilion rented for them by FEMCOM, to sell their products.
FEMCOM Executive Director Ruth Negash said the support would enable members of the associations to protect themselves, other co-workers and their families while continuing their activities.
“It’s our Duty as FEMCOM chapter to serve and lead the way to protect African women entrepreneurs, promote their health and raise their awareness about the pandemic”, she said. “Our national economies will be negatively affected if our women MSMEs become sick as they are caregivers besides them running businesses.”
As a way of enhancing the fight against COVID-19, FEMCOM has since created an online communication platform with all presidents of the associations that represent provinces, for exchange of activities, share experiences and gather information about the impact of the pandemic.
FEMCOM Chapter in DR Congo has since engaged the government on the issues affecting women in business relating to COVID-19. Subsequently, the government has promised funding for the Association through two commercial banks and a microfinance institution which shall give loans with low repayment rates to SME businesses who supply food and essential products.