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Cross-border trade in the Great Lakes

Improving the conditions of cross-border traders in the Great Lakes region of Africa

This project aimed to provide a safe environment for small-scale cross-border traders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as neighbouring Great Lakes countries, improving their economic situation and forging closer ties between traders in the region.

Women and men involved in cross-border trade between DRC, Rwanda and Uganda often face harassment. Two-thirds of these traders are women, for whom the trade provides a meagre but essential income.

We trained 300 women traders to better protect their rights and hold customs officials to account, supporting the development and organisation of small trader cooperatives and teaching negotiation techniques, tax classification and small business management.

We also trained border officials to better manage and treat cross-border traders, and brought together state agents and traders to voice and address grievances and tackle obstacles to trade.

These efforts have resulted in 60% fewer cases of harassment like physical or verbal abuse and extortion at the border.