Global demand for craft and natural cosmetics is on the rise.  Artisan production is a US $34 billion dollar industry globally, and is the second largest employer in developing countries after agriculture(1). And the natural and organic personal care market has registered double-digit growth for six consecutive years, with nearly US$30 billion in global sales in 2014(2).

Hundreds of thousands of women across Africa and the Middle East participate in, and earn their livelihood from, the artisan and natural cosmetics sectors. Often, depth and scope of this significant impact is not often fully recognized. In developing countries, the contribution these two sectors make to the economy and export industry is increasing as it often is seen as a solution to both rural and urban unemployment (4).

However, despite the global market opportunity and the substantial impact, women-led social enterprises in these sectors continually face barriers to growth such as:

  • limited access to finance and global buyers;
  • scalability to compete in global markets;
  • lack of effective product development and design;
  • limited business skills training;
  • effective trade policies.

To fully unleash the potential and impact of these social enterprises across Africa and the Middle East, Trade+Impact was created to unite relevant stakeholders with a common mission to work together to create an environment for these enterprises to grow and increase their impact in their communities and beyond.


T+I recognizes that these enterprises are at different stages in their growth, and require specialized programming to reach the status of an experienced exporter.  We have developed three trade levels, inspired by projects in Rwanda and Swaziland, to categorize where a business is in their growth. Our platform is designed to facilitate growth from one level to the next.


    T+I is creating an enabling environment to facilitate trade through two vehicles:

    • Online Digital Platform for Members: Featuring showcase profiles that present detailed information buyers and investors want to know from the social enterprises; and, an online community facilitating dialogue and sharing of knowledge and skills.
    • Annual Summit + Trade Expo: A curated, professional Summit + Trade Expo, featuring the best of the best from across the region. Our last event saw participants from 35 countries across five continents – a truly global event.