Women traders at borders seek for support

By Bullen Bala Alexander

Commissioner General of South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA) Dr.  Patrick Mugoya speaks at the training
Commissioner General of South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA) Dr. Patrick Mugoya

Women doing business in the border towns of Kaya and Nadapal are seeking for support towards the formation of Trade Associations, and Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs) to enable them build more capacity to compete favourably in cross-border trade.

The South Sudan Women Entrepreneurs Association is helping the businesswomen to amplify their voices for the support.

The appeal was echoed by the South Sudan Women Entrepreneur Association (SSWEA), executive director, Jane Gordon Sworo, on the side lines of the conclusion of a month-long Women in Trade training programme recently.

Ms.Sworo said while women traders from Nimule are more organised in their association, their counterparts at Kaya and Nadapal are still lagging behind and thus need help.

“We need to pull resources together and channel them to help the women of Kaya and Nadapal form Associations and Saccos. This will help them build more capacity and compete favourably with their peers in Nimule and other East African Community (EAC) borders,” she said.

The Women in Trade programme training which ended at the end of February sought to train and equip 2,000 South Sudan Women traders, mentor and build their capacity and competencies to trade so as to increase their incomes, promote their rights in trade and reduce their vulnerability to violence, harassment and exploitation, according to the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Country Representative for South Sudan, John Bosco Kalisa.

Altogether, 1000 Nimule women traders were trained, 500 from Kaya and 500 from Nadapal. Both Nimule and Kaya are at the South Sudan-Uganda Border while Nadapal is on the South Sudan-Kenya Border.

Funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by TMEA, the programme, which focused on improving the business environment for women in trade, also saw women trained in business management skills, sourcing for funds, cooperatives and Simplified Trade Regime (STR) in East Africa, among others.

The STR is where small-scale traders benefit from a simplified customs document and a simplified certificate of origin (SCOO), under which goods that are originating from member countries and whose value does not exceed $2,000 (sh7.3m), per consignment qualify for duty-free entry in the respective markets.

It mainly consists of four main instruments, including a simplified customs document, a simplified certificate of origin, a common list of products and a threshold for the value of the consignment.

It seeks to formalise and improve the performance of the small-scale cross-border traders and enable them to benefit from the regional preferential treatment when importing or exporting goods within the region.

It should be noted that while the other traders in EAC are benefiting from the STR, cross-border traders at the Elegu-Nimule border are not because South Sudan is not yet fully on- boarded into the East African Community.

The Commissioner General of South Sudan National Revenue Authority (SSNRA), Dr. Patrick Mugoya, however, pledged that his tax authority will work with the Uganda Revenue Authority and TMEA to formally introduce the scheme to boost women cross-border trade.

“Making these women follow the normal customs clearance procedures is not proper; we will ensure that we put in place a special clearance scheme to enable them trade with ease. As SSNRA, we are more than ready to work in the very near future with our counterparts in URA to introduce this special window,” Dr. Mugoya said.

The STR will help women traders by lower trade costs, eliminate informal trade, help safeguard government revenue, make legitimate trade more appealing and improve intra-regional trade.

The Nimule Women Cross Border Traders Association chairperson, Yemima Semira Erisama, applauded TMEA and Global Affairs Canada for the initiative, which she said that empowered women to better participate in cross-border trade.

“This Women in Trade training was very good for us; we are very happy because as an association, we have been asking for these empowerment programs for our members and other traders. We are happy that TMEA and other partners were able to facilitate this training,” Erisama said, adding that women are now better equipped to involve in cross border trade.”

She, however, decried the limited time allocated for the training, saying that they needed more time given the so many challenges women traders were facing.

 “In Nimule for instance, over 1000 women were trained in one month which was not enough. Remember some do not understand English and thus, there was need for multiple translations for everyone to understand,” she said.

She, however, noted that it is a good starting point.

The Nimule Women Cross Border Training Association is also now officially recognised by the government of South Sudan.

Erisama applauded the funders and trainers and also appealed to women in other areas to form organised traded groups if they are to benefit from such initiatives.

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