Today, the SMEs dominate the majority of economies in Africa, including the COMESA region. However, many SMEs face challenges in limited entrepreneurial skills/experiences, lack of access to appropriate technology, lack of access to finance and low level of value addition.

In tackling the issue above, FEMCOM fosters and implements COMESA Cluster Development Programme, which has been designed as a means of enhancing collective efficiency, whereby enterprises of similar sectors or production interests can collectively stand up to large firms, particularly by receiving holistic facilitations through FEMCOM-COMESA.

Through such holistic facilitations, FEMCOM intends to enable women in SMEs to come together in clusters, holistically minimize their costs and, ultimately, increasing value-added goods and services in the regional and international markets.

Major activities under COMESA Cluster Development Programme will include:

  • Identify and profile of SMEs in the selected clusters in the Member States
  • Provide onsite processing and manufacturing methods, including development of new products
  • Conduct training management and business skills
  • Incubation support in line with Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE) Project
  • Design suitable loan facilities (in collaboration with financial institutions for the acquisition of machines and working capital)
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Identified clusters for 2013-2014 include cassava, garments/textiles and leather.

Sectoral harmonization of the activities (incubation support and facilitation of access to finance) with BIAWE Project will be arranged under two clusters: cassava and garments/textiles.