« COMESA Tunisia Business Women Days » : The COMESA Agreements for Tunisian and African Business Women 

today29/09/2022 26

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The projects of Promotion of Export Activities to New Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (PEMA II) and Support to Trade Agreements with Africa (AACA) assist Tunisian and African women in improving their joint export activities under the framework of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) agreement. The GIZ implemented the projects on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with its partners the Tunisian Export Promotion Center (CEPEX) and the Tunisian Ministry of Trade and Export Development (MCDE).  

Gender is a high-priority theme in the COMESA agreement. The main focus of the agreement’s gender policy is to solidify the role of women within the free trade area. PEMA II and AACA support this goal by organizing, under the high patronage of the Tunisian Head of Government and in cooperation with the MCDE as well as the National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (CNFCE), an international conference on the 29th and 30th of September. The event is about the development of trade between sub-Saharan African and Tunisian women-led companies.  

The organizers of this international event aimed to:

  • highlight the importance of women in trade in the COMESA region
  • promote networking between African women entrepreneurs in the COMESA region and present the advantages that the agreement can have in terms of financing opportunities and support for women.  


At the event, UTICA and the COMESA Business Council (CBC) will sign, in the presence of her Excellency the Tunisian Head of government, a cooperation agreement.

PEMA II will present together with CEPEX and the CNFCE the 80 women-led companies it is working with.  

Over the last year, the project selected women entrepreneurs and grouped them into four sectoral consortia: 

  • Handicrafts and cosmetics 
  • Agriculture 
  • Services (Consulting)  
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) 

The international conference “COMESA Tunisia Business Women Days” took place from the 29th to 30th September 2022 in person and online. The following guests participated in the event: 

 The Minister of Trade and Export Development « Mrs. Fadhila Rebhi Ben Hamza »  

  • The Minister of Family, Women, Children, and Seniors « Mrs. Amel Moussa Belhaj »  
  • The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tunisian Export Promotion Center (CEPEX) « Mr. Mourad Ben Hassine »  
  • The President of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts (UTICA) « Mr. Samir Majoul »  
  • The President of the National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (CNFCE) « Mrs. Leila Belkhiria Jaber  »  
  • The General Secretary of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) « Mrs. Chileshe Kapwepwe »  
  • The CEO of the COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) « Ms. Ruth Negash »  
  • The Ambassador of Germany « Mr. Peter Prügel »  
  • The Country Director of the German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ Tunisia and Libya) « Mr. Manfred Horr »  .


The speakers are experts in women’s entrepreneurship and business development and officials of COMESA and other relevant organizations. The interventions covered topics such as the opportunities offered by COMESA and the prospects for women’s entrepreneurship. The participants also discussed the optimal business ecosystem and what practices should be encouraged within the African women’s business community such as funding solutions and e-commerce.  

The attendance of the president of the COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) and the president of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) marked this event as a crucial initiative; showed the willingness to play a prominent role in advancing women businesses in Africa. This is highlighted by the mission of the National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (CNFCE) of UTICA which was selected to spearhead the COMFWB chapter of the North Africa region. 

Written by: Asma Mouaddeb