Women from across Cameroon participating in digital business bootcamp.

Commonwealth Secretariat and ITFC partner to empower women business owners in Cameroon

Thirty-four women from across Cameroon have benefitted from a three-day digital business bootcamp designed to equip them with the skills necessary to scale up their businesses globally.

The Commonwealth Secretariat partnered with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) on the bootcamp, which ran from 2 May to 4 May 2023 in Yaoundé, focusing on upskilling women business owners in Cameroon.

Research reveals that women entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage in accessing digital infrastructure and participating in e-commerce platforms. The bootcamp aimed to help address that deficit by providing skills and resources in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and digital know-how.

One of the entrepreneurs attending the bootcamp, Buma Emeline from the Fonds Régional Pour la Promotion de Santé du Centre – an organisation working in Cameroon to ensure patients are offered quality medication and health facilities – said the workshop would help her better market her products and medical advice, and learn how to engage more partners to reach more citizens.

Opening the bootcamp, Secretary General of Cameroon’s Ministry of Trade, Brusil Miranda Metou, said:

“To better leverage the benefit from e-commerce, you need to master its contours… The training that you will receive over the next three days will enable you to diversify your activities and facilitate your inclusion in the national, regional and international value chains.”

Ms Metou thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) for organising the bootcamp, which, she said, would strengthen the role of women in the e-commerce process and development of Cameroon.

The bootcamp was part of a wider initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the ITFC, which has been supporting the Government of Cameroon with technical assistance and capacity building on trade opportunities.

Under the initiative, the Secretariat and ITFC facilitated the development of an e-commerce strategy for Cameroon, produced a training manual on leveraging e-commerce capabilities and hosted two training sessions for women entrepreneurs in Cameroon. With this bootcamp, 100 entrepreneurs have been trained through the initiative, with the goal of training at least an additional 50 women.

Speaking at the bootcamp, Opeyemi Abebe, Head of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Trade Competitiveness Section, said:

“To facilitate trade and e-commerce, our focus should not only be on developing modern digital infrastructure and restoring the financial systems but also on embracing skills development.

“The lack of knowledge of business management, marketing, finance and logistics particularly impedes the progress of women entrepreneurs. Bridging this gap will enable women entrepreneurs to succeed and grow their businesses exponentially and this is what we collectively aim to achieve through the bootcamp.”

Nasser Al-Thekair, General Manager of Trade and Business Development at ITFC, said:

“E-commerce is widely acknowledged as a significant instrument for innovation, competitiveness, job creation, and growth. This bootcamp will provide women entrepreneurs in Cameroon with a chance to broaden their horizons and enhance their involvement in the global e-commerce trade.”

Micro, small and medium-sized businesses constitute a significant percentage of Cameroon’s private sector. The contribution of these businesses to job creation and poverty reduction in Cameroon is substantial. Their impact on the economy could be significantly greater if these businesses are able to take full advantage of domestic and export market opportunities and participate in global supply chains through e-commerce.

The initiative’s goal is to make it easier for more Cameroonian entrepreneurs to expand their market reach and make their goods and services available globally. The entrepreneurs will leave the bootcamp with concrete skills and resources, including how to attract an international audience, navigate payment systems, advice on supply chain management and a mock-up for their website.

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