During the 4th FEMCOM Board Meeting and Annual General Meeting in Matsapha, Swaziland in August 2010, one of the most remarkable results generated from this meeting was the agreement that FEMCOM begins to foster its ‘Holistic Cluster Approach’, designed as a means of enhancing collective efficiency, so that enterprises of similar sectors or production interests can collectively stand up to large firms, particularly by receiving holistic facilitations through FEMCOM. Such holistic facilitations include provision of infrastructure, technical assistance and training programmes.

By doing so, FEMCOM enables women in small-medium enterprises to come together in clusters, holistically minimize their costs and, ultimately, increasing value-added goods and services in the regional and international markets. Furthermore, the effectiveness of cluster productions has previously been found in countries, such as Brazil, China, Indonesia and Taiwan, resulting in the basis of their economies today.

With collaboration of each FEMCOM chapter’s focal point organizations as well as COMESA, effective clusters are expected to be in formation and operation in the following sectors:

  • Agricultural Manufacture Sector
    • Burundi (dairy farming), Comoros (herbal medicine and spices), D.R. Congo (cassava and timber), Djibouti (salt), Egypt, Eritrea (poultry and animal feed), Kenya (poultry, dairy farming and floriculture), Libya, Madagascar (vanilla), Malawi (dairy farming, poultry, piggery, bee-keeping), Rwanda (coffee, tea and timber), Seychelles (fisheries), Sudan (herbal medicine), Swaziland, Uganda (specifically processed fruit juice, wine, mushroom, poultry and other dairy farming), Zambia (specifically poultry, bee-keeping) Zimbabwe (dairy farming, poultry, bee-keeping)
    • Particular emphasis has been placed on fostering cluster productions in ‘cotton’ and ‘cassava’ sectors due to several factors:
      • Higher demand in regional and international trade
      • Already existing higher profiling of women
      • Higher efficiency in minimizing costs and increasing productivity
      • More employment creations
      • Increased exports of labor absorbing goods
    • By fostering such cluster formations and their operations, FEMCOM solidly holds its mandate to facilitate, coordinate and catalyze business opportunities for women in Eastern and Southern Africa and beyond.
  • Handicrafts Sector
    • Ethiopia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda
  • Textile Sector
    • D.R. Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Uganda
  • Services/Tourism Sector
    • Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Mining Sector
    • D.R. Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Leather Sector
    • Djibouti, Eritrea (sheep rearing), Ethiopia, Sudan
  • Horticulture Sector
    • Eritrea, Malawi, Rwanda
  • In addition to the introduction to holistic cluster approach, three other successful projects were:
      FEMCOM Secretariat initiated a partnership with PTA Bank to facilitate access of credit through credit guarantee arrangements to selected FEMCOM national chapters. The Bank provided a loan to a tune of US$400,000 to AFAB for WISE (a microfinance institution in Burundi managed and owned by women in business and members of FEMCOM Burundi, AFAB). The COMESA Council of Ministers during the August 2012 COMESA Summit in Manzini, Swaziland, decided that this project is replicated in the rest of the COMESA member states.
      o Within of the context of the regional integration, the Programme for Building African Capacity for Trade implemented by the ITC and funded by CIDA, FEMCOM Secretariat received financial support to hire short-term consultant (six-months) to assist the preparation related to the finalization of FEMCOM Board meeting, annual general meeting and the resource mobilization strategies.
      o FEMCOM in partnership with COMESA Gender Division received funding in the sum of Euro 500,000 from the Government of Spain through the NEPAD Secretariat for the establishment of incubator projects in members states focusing on agro-processing. The project seeks to support initiatives in economic capacity building for women, promote rural entrepreneurship and develop agricultural resources, specifically in ICT, handicrafts and agro-processing sectors.