The conference attracted more than 300 women from Africa and 500 companies. At least 15 Ugandan women entrepreneurs involved in agro-processing, textile, ready garments, health and medicine, cosmetics, art and crafts, among others, attended the conference.
While in Turkey, the women visited factories, attended product exhibitions, and had sessions with some of the top international business executives, according to Lokman Cinar, the secretary general of the Uganda Global Business Association (UGBA).
UGBA partnered Turkey-Africa Women Entrepreneurs Trade Bridge 2014 and the Confederation of Business and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON), with the African Union Commission (AUC) also playing a role.
According to one of the women who attended the conference, Phoebe Mwesigye of Phoebe M/S, a company dealing in mostly agricultural products like grain, fruits, livestock and animal products, the conference was helpful since it helped them connect with international contacts.
“It was so good interfacing with women in Turkey and East Africa about processing,” she says.
The meeting also presented some opportunities for the women.
“I had gone to specifically know about the prices of machines to make yoghurt,” Mwesigye said, and added that she ended up getting more than she bargained for –- partners who are even willing to get her the machines cheaply.
“They are so interested in coming to set up distribution centres here,” she said. “We want to produce a range of dairy products that many Ugandans have not thought of venturing into.”
She was referring to goat milk yoghurt, which is alleged to be the best. Turkey-Africa Women Entrepreneurs Trade Bridge is a platform for importers, exporters, investors, traders and traders’ advisors.
TUSKON is a non-governmental organisation of seven business federations and 211 business associations. It is the largest business NGO in the Turkey. The volume of trade and investment between Uganda and Turkey is estimated at $30m. Turkish investments in Uganda currently include cement manufacturing, oil drilling rigs, and manufacture of pre-payment meters for water and electricity.
Every year TUSKON facilitates business meetings between Ugandan and Turkish entrepreneurs.