Efforts by the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), together with Traidlinks, to build the competitiveness of 82 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to penetrate the East African market have started to yield results.
In the first eight months of this year, the companies have generated an aggregate of $4.6m, according to Daniel Karibwije, UEPB’s director, Trade Promotion and Public Relations.
Since 2009, through an export development initiative dubbed ‘Market Linked’, the SMEs have been connected to buyers from the different East African Community member states with a mission to have Ugandan products penetrate the regional market.
“Up to 82 companies have been on sales missions within the EAC member states in addition to taking part in international marketing trainings. Through this programme, over 376 buyers have been identified in western Kenya, Rwanda, northern Tanzania and Burundi,” Karibwije said.
“At least 755 business appointments have been set up for Ugandan companies to discuss business with potential buyers. On average, each participating company has had 11 appointments with potential buyers in the market across the eight group sales missions that have been held.”
According to Karibwije, about 50 per cent of these companies have now started to export to the other areas of the region while others are making adjustments in order to do the same. In order to coordinate efforts and promote sustainable trade, an alumni club has been established to foster peer-to-peer learning and promote competitiveness.
Last Friday, the club had its third market-linked alumni meeting, which was presided over by the minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, at the Golf Course hotel in Kampala. Kyambadde, who applauded the initiative, noted that more companies would be targeted to join the programme.
SMEs play an essential role in driving economic growth of Uganda and are estimated to contribute more than 30 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, 70 per cent of employment, and 80 per cent of manufactured output. At the alumni meeting, a number of officials from different companies shared their experiences.
The programme is modelled on an aggressive mechanism, where a technical team, together with a consultant, carries out extensive market research to promote interest among buyers. Trade missions to link the already earmarked potential buyers are then conducted for final business negotiations and direct linkages.
“It will be possible for UEPB to support a company access any EAC market throughout the year based on specific parameters,” Karibwije said.
“One of the key factors is that the product must be manufactured in Uganda, and if agricultural, must bear a value addition component. Presently, there is a specific sales mission to Rwanda that will apprentice companies’ access to these markets more rapidly.”
Source : The Observer