Regional Businesswomen Gather in Madagascar for COMFWB Trade Fair

A splendour of pink marked the COMESA Federation of Women in Business Trade Fair and Conference as local and international female entrepreneurs from 20 COMESA Member States gathered in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 28 and 29 June 2024.

The Fair themed “Enhancing Participation of Women Entrepreneurs in the COMESA Regional Markets under the AfCFTA anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition, and Tourism” was the 5th since it was launched in 2020.

Previously, the Fair has been held in Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, and Egypt and serves as a important platform to promote trade among COMESA Member States, with a special focus on the role of women entrepreneurs in the advancement of intra-regional trade.

The First Lady of Madagascar, Her Excellency Mrs. Mialy Rajoelina opened the trade fair and business conference.

In her statement, Mrs. Rajoelina called on regional governments to invest extensively in empowering women, highlighting their resilience in driving economic emancipation and reducing poverty.

She stated, “I have seen the determination of women in Madagascar and the COMESA region to better the lives of not only their families but the communities at large. I strongly believe that women are the key to ending poverty and bringing about sustainable development for our region and beyond. We cannot afford to leave them out.”

Dr. Dev Haman encouraged traders in Madagascar and beyond to seriously consider the COMESA market, which offers a large market of more than 600 million people. He emphasized the importance of addressing the challenges faced by women to ensure they thrive in various sectors. “By having such events, we are building bridges with all stakeholders, including women, governments, COMESA institutions, partners, and key players,” he added.

Ms. Maureen Sumbwe, the COMFWB Board Chairperson, called for governments to facilitate the free movement of people. She expressed regret over the current difficulties, citing long flight connections, lack of flexible routes, visa requirements, and inadequate facilities for women travelers.

“It is regrettable that moving from one COMESA country to another has remained a thorn in the flesh,” she noted.

Other speakers at the fair and conference included the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade, and Consumption, Hon. Edgar Razafindravahy; Mr. Issa Sanogo, the United Nations Coordinator in Madagascar; COMFWB Madagascar Chairperson Ms. Fanja Razakaboana; and COMFWB Chief Executive Officer Mr. Chikakula Miti. They all stressed the need to fully empower women in business with the right resources and skills and to open access to markets to promote intra-regional trade.

COMFWB, a COMESA institution dedicated to enhancing the role of women in the business sector, has its head office in Lilongwe, Malawi.