The Hub supports trade policy initiatives and harmonized standards to encourage the smooth trade of goods within the region and internationally. The month of March was busy, read about it below.
East Africa Trade and Investment Hub
Boosting trade and investment in East Africa        
Monthly Newsletter - March 2016 
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 In this issue:
The rationale for the EAC Common Market is compelling. Free movement of goods expands markets, drives economic growth and provides more consumer choices.

Since the establishment of the East African Community (EAC) Customs Union, USAID programs have supported trade regulatory measures inline with World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and best practices to boost trade and investment within the EAC region and internationally. In March, the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) facilitated several workshops with key actors in the public and private sector to make progress on reducing barriers to trade by assessing regional standards and procedures, and sharing best practices.
The Hub's agricultural team hosted consensus-building workshops in Mombasa, Kenya and Entebbe, Uganda to harmonize national positions on selected staple foods standards and proficiency testing for cereals and pulses. By the end of the Kenya workshop, all Partner State representatives agreed to present the EAC Secretariat with revised drafts for harmonized regional standards for maize grain, dry beans, milled rice and wheat grain. The revised harmonized standards will go through the remaining EAC approval process before adoption and implementation. In Uganda, workshop participants developed a roadmap for knowledge sharing and collaboration among the selected laboratories and stakeholders in the grain sector. This roadmap will be presented to the EAC secretariat for further review and approval, prior to piloting the proficiency testing regulations and methodologies in PT designated labs.
Also in March, the Hub's trade policy team hosted a workshop to update action plans on technical barriers to trade and develop procedures for sanitary phytosanitary (SPS) measures. The workshop attendees shared best practices on regulatory processes and notification procedures inline with transparency requirements under the WTO TBT and SPS Agreements. Interested in the best practices that were shared? You can view all the workshop presentations, here.
Consistent, harmonized technical regulations and standards, and the application of SPS measures, will improve trade predictability and transparency in the region, and in the end, make trade less expensive. It will also prepare the region's exporters to anticipate and comply with requirements in international markets. 
To read more about what the Hub is doing to boost trade and investment in the region, visit our website:
An African Queen truck on delivery

The Hub recently supported the financial closure of a $2 - $4 million investment that will provide equity for a female-owned business, the African Queen, in Uganda. The African Queen is a top distributor of food and consumer goods, including juice, scholastic materials, personal care, and food products. 
High-quality warehousing facilities are in short supply in the East African region. The African Queen's focus on warehousing and distribution will promote and support cross-border trade.

The Hub transaction team reviewed the company's existing process for order fulfillment and recommended a new process based on the optimization of technology, increased training for employees and better utilization of customer data. The Hub also carried out an extensive market review of five enterprise resource planning technologies to better advise the African Queen on the most appropriate option.
The Hub prioritizes sectors with potential for female job creation, such as apparel, horticulture, and coffee.

Since May 2015, the Hub has helped facilitate $20.6 million in financial transactions.
Click here to view an infographic of Hub-facilitated investments.
worldmarketHub Facilitates World Market Buyer's Mission to East Africa

Word Market is a billion dollar division of Bed Bath & Beyond, the popular U.S. retail chain. In the words of the Hub's fashion and home decor advisor, Llenya Ferretti, "They sell everything." World Market is currently sourcing Kisii soap stone items from Kenya and wants to diversify its range of products and suppliers. The Hub seized on World Market's desire to diversify by introducing them to talented home decor and accessories producers in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. The buyers met 12 export-ready vendors and witnessed production at five companies. 

"The organization of this mission has been seamless. Having the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub pre-qualify vendors gave us the confidence we would see the right companies." - Linda McCain

"The trip and visit with artisans has been more than I could have imagined"
- Deneese Nachel Jackson, Buyer, Artisan Gifts

The Hub also facilitated a dinner to introduce World Market representatives to Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed for the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade. CS Mohamed was pleased to hear of World Market's intention to source more items from Kenya.
Goodie Odihambo shows off her "Goodies Gifts" to three representatives from World Market.
traintogrowHub and Umati Capital Train SMEs on Business Fundamentals for Growth

From March 15-16, the Hub, in partnership with Umati Capital (an innovative financial services provider for agri-businesses), held a training for 22 SMEs in the agricultural sector. The 'Business Fundamentals for Growth' course covered the following topics:
  • Business accounting and finance
  • Financing options
  • Markets and market linkages
  • Using technology to improve business processes
"Umati Capital believes that financiers must provide more than just capital to customers in order to differentiate themselves from their competition. Umati is proud to partner with East Africa Trade and Investment Hub in this SME training program to help us deliver this critical component of our value proposition," said Ivan Mbowa, Co-founder/CEO, Umati Capital.

Here is what a few of the participants had to say about the event:

"I have picked a few things that will change the way I do business. Thank you very much for organizing the training," said Angela Wahome, Melvin Marsh International.

"I really learnt a lot, especially on the Trade Finance Landscape session. It helped me know that there are more options than those put forth by financiers. I now know what to ask for next time," said Samuel Warui Kang'ethe, Millennium Fresh Produce Limited.

"The training has been helpful, especially for those of us whose businesses are in the early stages," said Maurice Odiwa, Kodika Pioneers.

Nearly 50 entrepreneurs attended the Hub's recent African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) workshop in Kigali, Rwanda. From export-ready firms with considerable operations, such as C & H Garment, to startup home décor enterprises.
Left: Rwandan designers 
Square: Upper left, question from the audience 
Upper right: Hub technical advisor Fred Kongongo 
Lower left: Economic and Commercial Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Mike Lurie, delivers opening remarks
Lower right: Home decor company Glo Creations
Young Rwandan designers stood out in their multi-patterned African print dresses and suits. A look that U.S. buyers love, assured the Hub's Home Décor and Fashion Advisor. But, the Hub's advisor also noted that international buyers would demand fabric consistency for large orders, which is a difficult feat for designers who purchase their fabrics from local markets with inconsistent supply.
Like the designers, many of Rwanda's entrepreneurs face challenges to becoming truly export ready, a concept that the Hub's Apparel Advisor drove home by having each workshop attendee conduct a seven question export ready test.  Sample question: Do you know how to properly cost your product?
The Hub's workshop seminars are designed to help alleviate export-ready challenges by detailing AGOA opportunities by sector, outlining the AGOA export process, and suggesting avenues for access to finance.  All seminars include in-country specialists who are directly involved in trade facilitation or provide logistical or financial resources.
Many of the young designer noted that they were especially thankful for the Access to Finance Seminar. They want to reach "ready-to-wear," a phrase to describe clothes made for a general market and sold through stores as opposed to custom orders. Ready-to-wear clothing demands consistency in standards and greater investment; it also yields bigger business and moneymaking opportunities.
"From the quiz, I learned that I am not yet ready to export, but soon. The financing seminar was very helpful. I now know where I am going to start," said Cynthia Repairi.
Repairi is a dress designer who is currently selling custom orders through her sister who lives in Denver, Colorado. She's excited about the U.S interest in her product and wants to do more. 

Interested in sourcing from Rwanda? Check out the Hub's Rwanda Export Directory.
View photos from the workshop here.
tradefinanceHelping Entrepreneurs Gain Access to Trade Finance

On March 24, the Hub held a trade finance seminar for exporters of home decor and fashion accessories at its Nairobi office. Representatives from 22 SMEs attended the seminar. Several of the entrepreneurs are already exporting to the U.S. and would like to scale up to meet demand, or are looking to enter the U.S. market for the first time and need additional capital to do so successfully. 

"The Hub is moving in the right direction in providing us with the needed support. Access to finance is important in assisting us increase sales and our exports to the U.S.," said Anne Moraa from Sanabora Creations. Sanabora Creations also participated in the just-concluded Hub-supported U.S. buyers' missions to Kenya.

Hub home decor and fashion advisor, Llenay Ferretti, advised those in attendance on current U.S. market trends and U.S. buyer expectations. The Hub also partnered with several financial institutions whose representatives introduced various product portfolios and discussed financing requirements with the entrepreneurs. Following the seminar, the entrepreneurs had one-on-one engagements with the financial institution of their choice. 

"The momentum is accelerating from the first AGOA Prep Workshop to today's trade finance training. We can see tangible interventions by the Hub that we believe will assist in the growth of the industry," said Nicola Hankey, Cofounder Urban Artefacts. Urban Artefacts also participated in the just concluded Hub-supported U.S. buyers' missions to Kenya.
"The Hub has been instrumental in helping me to grow my business in the local and export market through relevant trainings, market linkages, and introductions within the leather eco system," said Apprelle Duany, Director Apprelleduany.
The event was attended by Umati Capital and Heva Fund, both of whom are non-banking financial institutions. "We at HEVA Fund would like to thank the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub for organising a successful seminar for Home Decor and Fashion Accessories. The seminar is vital in sensitizing the industry players locally on expectations and options available for Trade Financing. We look forward to using these insights to develop industry interventions that cater to challenges faced and facilitate resources for the growing export markets," said Heva Fund Project Coordinator, Amal Mohamed. The Hub is collaborating with Heva Fund to provide tailor-made financial solutions for East African-based SMEs in the creative sectors.
sunoHub Facilitates SUNO Buyer's Mission to East Africa
The Hub just finished facilitating a buyer's mission to Kenya and Ethiopia with New York-based, high-
fashion retail line SUNO. The Hub introduced SUNO's three representatives to local fashion accessory vendors and fashion apparel manufacturers. The Hub's Trade Promotion and AGOA Team and U.S.-based home décor and accessories consultant selected the vendors based on vendor aptitude and awareness of the SUNO line. The Hub expects the mission to result in SUNO sourcing more items from Kenya and Ethiopia and increased exports of fashion goods to the U.S. under AGOA. 

"It has been a very comprehensive and successful trip to East Africa hosted by The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub.  The companies and makers that have been developed and selected in Kenya and Ethiopia are an excellent match for SUNO in their continued vision to develop product in Africa. Every company that received an introduction was carefully curated and has the potential to be an appropriate, reliable and sustainable partner. Many thanks for hosting us and facilitating the arrangements and potential partnerships seamlessly. It will be exciting to see what will transpire next for SUNO in Africa," said Andree DeLair, SUNO Design.

eventsUpcoming Events:
  • Agriculture Trade Forum. Nairobi, Kenya. April 5-7.
  • Generation Agripreneur Summit & Expo. Kampala, Uganda. April 19-21. More information...
  • World Investment Forum. Nairobi, Kenya. July 17-21. More information...
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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