UNDP Launches Apex Body for Women Traders

Sep 28, 2017

Members of the Apex dancing during the launch

Women face different challenges in society, from economic to social aspects of their lives they are presented with challenges that call for them to develop strategies for a way forward and make an impact in society. Women in Cross Border Trade (WICBT) in Swaziland saw these challenges as an opportunity to develop themselves further. As such, they have formed an apex body known as Sivelesinebunye Women in Cross Border Trade which help them to collectively address issues and challenges faced by the women in this sector. Informal cross border trade is one of the ignored sectors of the Swaziland economy and yet it contributes significantly to economic growth and development. UNDP has facilitated the creation of the apex body for women in informal cross border trade. The apex body known as ‘Sive Lesinebunye Women in Cross Border Trade’ was officially launched on by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Kabiru Nasidi and the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, represented by the PS Jinnoh Nkambule. The association has a total membership of 13 sub- associations affiliated to the apex body, representing a diverse group of women who contribute to the socio- economic growth of the informal sector in Swaziland. SME Director in the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade Michael Zwane highlighted that some of the challenges faced by these women include lack of accommodation and knowledge on how to handle their trade in a professional way, which the project has covered in capacity building aspects. The PS stated that as government they appreciated the contribution of such trade to the economy of the country UNDP DRR said the apex body would assist government to map a properly guided way forward for external trading for women. “Cross border trade therefore plays an important role in the reduction of poverty; provision of trading opportunities, employment and also a source of livelihood for the majority of women who live within the 63% bracket that is below the poverty line in Swaziland,” Nasidi said. Sivelesinebunye’s chairperson Thobile Dube thanked all stakeholders who contributed towards establishing the association, highlighting some of the achievements they have seen through the existence of the body. “We can boldly say we are business women now with a competitive advantage of training and a wealth of knowledge on business operations and with that we can make our trade more profitable,” said Dube. The proceeds from their trading activities is the main source of income for the family; women traders use their income to buy food and other items for the household, pay for school fees, health care services and rent, save in clubs and banks and reinvest in their businesses. Against the backdrop of making profits, Swaziland Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Dumisani Masilela invited the women in business to engage with the Tax department so as to know what to do, especially where declaring their goods was concerned, stressing that the SRA was not their enemy but want to assist them in making their trade more valuable to the country. He highlighted the role of the SRA in facilitating cross border trade, including discussions on transparent policies and decisions, simplified processes and procedures as well as consistency and predictability. One of the major aspects of the project, cross border trading is to create a business platform at regional level and beyond so that women in business from the country would never find themselves short of markets to sell their artistic produce, produced by their own natural skills. As such, it has been said that this sub-sector needs highly focused women leaders who would be able to drive the programme forward beyond 2022, where women across borders would have no challenges coming from issues within the trading zones both within and outside Swaziland. At inception, the project aimed at creating wealth and reduce poverty and exclusion among Women in Informal Cross Border Trade (WICBT) by strengthening the leadership, increasing commitment and accountability of government institutions to integrate WICBT issues in policies or legislation, programmes, plans and budgets. The project strengthened capacities of WICBT and knowledge sharing for greater visibility of the contribution of the WICBT to wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and regional integration. The informal sector contributes Millions of dollars to economic growth and sustainability of livelihoods, though it’s a sector that is not accounted for and its contribution not documented.

Contact information

Lars Tushuizen, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Email: lars.tushuizen@undp.org