Mobile money has been consistently identified as a solution to increasing financial inclusion and, ultimately, more broad-based economic growth in Africa. Securing capital for a mobile money company is just one of many transactions that the Hub has helped facilitate in the past several months. Photo credit: C. Schubert, CCAFS.
East Africa Trade and Investment Hub
Boosting trade and investment in East Africa        
Monthly Newsletter - February 2016 
                                                                             Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr
 In this issue:
Family Milk in Ethiopia, before expansion.

Since May 2015, the Hub has helped facilitate $20.6 million in financial transactions. 

The Hub supports mutually beneficial transactions that increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and helps expand the financial services, agribusiness, and ICT sectors in the East African region. (Check out the Hub's investment transaction model at the bottom of this article.)

This month, the Hub supported the financial close of a new transaction in the Kenyan micro finance sector. The Hub conducted a market positioning exercise, a regulatory review and a competitor analysis for a local investor, acting as a neutral intermediary to provide direct transaction support that leads to deal closure. The end result, finance for lower and middle-income earners and capital in the hands of cash-starved SMEs.
Examples of previous Hub transaction support include investment capital for a dairy operation in Ethiopia, with an anticipated result of 600 new jobs, and capital to expand a mobile money agent network across Uganda. The Uganda transaction will also create new jobs, as well as increase the availability of mobile money -- the electronic transfer of money using cell phones -- to SMEs and agricultural traders in Uganda and the region. The investment resulted in a significant expansion in the company's reach in parts of Uganda, where traders have little access to banking services.

Click here, to view an infographic of Hub-facilitated investments since May 2015.

In mid-February, the USAID trade hubs - East, West and Southern - joined forces at the Sourcing at Magic Trade Show to play host to 35 textile and apparel companies from across Africa. All 35 companies, representing 10 different countries, journeyed to Las Vegas, Nevada to connect with buyers and expand their markets as part of the Africa Pavilion

The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub supported 26 of the companies in attendance, and coordinated the overall African Pavilion. From an initial poll of these companies, participants estimated that they formed 200 business linkages, with a value of at least $3 million in new business in the near-term.

"The show went amazing for me. I was able to get two good orders and I will be delivering one this summer and another in Spring Summer 2017," said Kevine Kagirimpundu, CEO/Creative Director of Uzuri K&Y Designs, a Rwandan shoe company.

In general, companies said they gained exposure to U.S. buyers, profited from valuable networking opportunities, learned from seminars, and gained an appreciation for the value of duty-free access to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

The overall sentiment by participants -- They want to go back to Magic.

"I am really happy to have participated in the African Pavilion in Sourcing at Magic. My company has a unique business model. We can produce runs for small buyers, with anything from 100  to 10,000 pieces per order. I was looking for buyers who are willing to become partners over the long haul and I did find my target customer at Sourcing at Magic. I already have several orders from the show," said Simon Seebaluc of Denim Bay of Mauritius. 

Sourcing at Magic is a global pillar of fashion trade shows, where 60,000+ global industry insiders meet in Las Vegas to connect and forge trade deals.

Kenya's Principal Secretary State Department of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade Dr. Chris Kiptoo took part in a panel titled "Africa on the Verge." The panelists discussed how international brands can take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to source from Africa.

In recognition of the strong Kenyan presence, Sourcing at MAGIC's President, offered Kenya the opportunity of "Focus Country" status at the August 2016 show.

Kenya Principal Secretary State Department of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade Dr. Chris Kiptoo tweeted several messages of thanks to the Hub. (see below). @investEAfrica is the Hub twitter handle.

On right, top and middle -- Sourcing at MAGIC President Chris Griffin offers Kenyan delegation option of being a "focus country" at the next show (August).
On right, bottom -- Dr. Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary State Department of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade welcomes a delegation of 20 garment exporters and government officers, William Jackson, acting assistant USTR for textiles (seated on his left). In true Las Vegas style, Liberace (framed) presides over the gathering.

On February 22, the Hub and the Inter-Regional Economic Network (IREN) hosted an online Twitter chat (#YIAC2016) to discuss the role and opportunity for youth in agriculture in East Africa. The Twitter chat prefaced the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition, which took place in Arusha, Tanzania from February 24-27. Ninety youth-led agribusiness startups and SMEs participated. Fifteen from each category advanced to the final round.

The Twitter chat discussed five key questions:
  1. What are the opportunities available for youth in ag in East Africa? And how can youth access them?
  2. What are the hinderances preventing the youth from going into ag? And how can they be overcome?
  3. Are governments doing enough to promote ag among the youth?
  4. What is the role of technology? - Can tech be used to make ag attractive to the youth?
  5. What are the available sources of finance for youth in ag?
View our Storify page for an overview of the chat.

Results by number.

The Hub was proud to support three East African home décor companies at this year's Ambiente Trade Show, February 12- 16, in Frankfurt, Germany.

The three Hub-supported export-ready companies meld traditional African influences with a modern flair. They have the capacity to deliver high-quality, custom products on time to international buyers.

Olivia Knox, from Uganda, fashions gorgeous home décor and fashion accessories from Ankole long-horned cows, a breed historically raised by nomadic tribes in Uganda.

Olivia Knox received an on-the-spot order from a German company who wanted 200 pieces of horn whiskey glasses in three weeks time. She also received 10 requests for samples from companies based in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Argentina, Switzerland, and France. The Hub's home décor and fashion advisor helped Olivia Knox prearrange a meeting with the U.S. company Anthropologie, which is interested in table top products made from horn.

Mohazo, an "African lifestyle brand" based in Kenya, creates homeware and personal accessories. It's top moving products at the show were baskets, wood items, gourds and chess sets.  Zohra Baraka, Managing Director of Mohazo, said she received 20 serious inquiries from companies in Germany, Israel, Bulgaria, the U.S., the U.K., Slovenia, and Angola. The Ambiente experience was beyond her expectations. 

Sammy Abdella, from Ethiopia, works with talented weavers and artisans to create beautiful, original textiles using traditional hand looms. He sells his products under the name Negist Ethiopia. His products have been featured in Anthropologie, Barneys NY, Calypso and Eileen Fisher. In addition to luxury accessories, Sammy has also developed a high-end home furnishings line made by the skilled craftsmanship of Ethiopian artisans.

Sammy discovered that his price point was a bit too high for many of the buyers at Ambiente, but nevertheless, made strong contacts and gathered helpful market research.
Left to right - Ambiente trade show, Olivia Knox booth, Mohazo booth, Negist Ethiopia booth.
Hasina Raveloarijaona of Pili Pili Dock displays specialty food, including wild black pepper, ready for export.
SpecialtyAssessing the East African Specialty Food Sector

The Hub's Trade Promotion and AGOA team spent the month of February visiting manufacturing facilities across East Africa, including Madagascar and Mauritius, to assess the specialty food sector and discuss products and opportunities for U.S. market access. The assessment is part of the Hub's export promotion program. 

Unclear as to what constitutes a specialty food? Click here, the Hub's Specialty Food Advisor will explain.

Promising export products from across East Africa include, specialty honey, vanilla, wild black pepper, and baobab. Even in cases where the production volumes are low, these products should find success/value in the high-end U.S. market, which caters to high quality and small quantity. 

The Hub is working with promising companies to improve their manufacturing practices and market outreach, and will then introduce them to importers and buyers in the U.S.

Do you have a specialty food company, and are you based in Kenya? Contact us to see if there is still room in our March 1 Specialty Food Seminar at the Hub, in Nairobi.
The Hub has brought together the public and private sector for a series of dialogues across East Africa. The goal: assessing the implementation of the East African Community Common Market Protocol and outlining steps for improvement.

The Protocol is designed to turn the separate East African states of Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania into a single market where there is free movement of goods, services, capital and labor. The rationale for the EAC Common Market is compelling: over 150 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $146 billion. A single EAC market creates unprecedented opportunities for the private sector.

Yet the creation of this common market hasn't been easy, particularly in regards to harmonization of rules, regulations and standards. Hub-supported dialogues encourage stakeholders from both sides of these issues to address the challenges and look for solutions. Watch the video.
upcomingUpcoming Events:
The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub supports two U.S. presidential initiatives:

Trade Africa
is a partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and expand trade and economic ties among Africa, the United States, and other global markets.

Feed the Future
strives to increase agricultural production and the incomes of both men and women in rural areas who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Investments in inclusive agriculture-led growth encompass improving agricultural productivity, expanding markets and trade, and increasing the economic resilience of vulnerable rural communities.
The author's views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.
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