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New on our Knowledge Center: Trade-Based Solutions to Food Insecurity in East Africa

Published on April 20, 2018


Presentation delivered to Sean Jones, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security, USAID/Washington. 

Trade-Based Solutions to Food Insecurity in East Africa: In support of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, the Hub increases the access, availability, and utilization of African-grown staple foods in the region. It supports regional initiatives that improve market information, increase access to technology and innovation, and reduce non-tariff barriers that can hinder trade across borders.

As of January 2018, the Hub has closed investment deals totaling $59.3 million. Seventy percent of these deals are in the agricultural sector. The total value of deals in the Hub’s active investment pipeline is $220.9 million, more than 50 percent of these deals are in the agricultural sector ($115.4 million ag sector and $105.5 million in the non-ag sector).

Read more about how the Hub is supporting use of trade-based solutions to food insecurity in East Africa here

New on our Knowledge Center: Attracting Investment to East Africa

Published on April 19, 2018

Attracting_Investment_to_EA._Hub_April_2018.JPGAttracting Investment to East Africa. The Hub attracts, mobilizes and sustains new private-sector investment within the East African region. To date, the Hub has facilitated $59.3 million of investments and has $115.4 million in deals in its active engagement pipeline, for which the Hub is aggressively providing investment facilitation. Investment is a core ingredient for firms of all sizes to innovate, grow and ultimately sell their products locally, regionally and internationally.

U.S. and African business leaders connect at the Africa Investment Rising Roadshow 2018

Published on April 19, 2018

With six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, Africa shows vast investment potential. To promote opportunities on the continent, the USAID East and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are participating in the Africa Investment Rising Roadshow 2018, organized by the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). The USAID East Africa Hub is making stops in Washington, DC, New York and Des Moines between April 18 and April 26 to reshape perceptions on doing business in Africa by highlighting trade and investment opportunities and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

As premier sponsors of the roadshow, the USAID East and Southern Africa Trade Hubs worked with IGD to organize speed networking and company match sessions. The sessions will connect U.S. firms and investors with African firms seeking new trade and investment deals, creating opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships. They will also give participants clarity on how best to enter African markets, mitigate perceived risks and position their partnerships for success.

The USAID East Africa Hub is supporting two East African companies, Mwanzo Mpya and Madagascar Garments, to attend matchmaking sessions in Des Moines and New York respectively. For these companies and others, greater U.S. investment in Africa is a win-win. As U.S. investors are connected with profitable, growing African enterprises, those enterprises have the potential to receive resources that will enable them to expand their operations, create jobs and advance economic development.

On May 19, USAID leadership will participate in the Public-Private Sector Engagement Forum at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC alongside U.S. and African business leaders, government officials and civil society representatives. In addition to this forum, the Hub will attend fire starter speeches and Q&A sessions focused on trade and investment opportunities available between U.S. and African firms in all three cities. Private sector representatives will offer insights on the following:

  • How to mitigate the perceived risk of doing business in Africa, and the myths, realities and rewards of doing business in the region.
  • How to identify local partners in high-potential countries prior to making investment decisions.
  • Success stories on doing business in Africa and high-impact trade linkages between U.S. and African firms.
  • Challenges with entering the African market and solutions to ease the process for investors.

High-return sectors that could be of interest to U.S. firms in the region

Save the date: Gender Lens Investing Pitch-Ready Training Workshop

Published on April 19, 2018

On April 25, 2018, the Hub in collaboration with New Faces New Voices, a Pan-African advocacy group dedicated to expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector, will host a one-day Pitch-Ready Training Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event aims to increase female entrepreneurs and business leaders’ access to finance by providing participants with information on how to improve their businesses’ investment readiness and successfully pitch to investors.

Access to finance is a major constraint for most small and medium-sized enterprises in the East Africa region and women-owned businesses lag behind their male counterparts. This can partially be attributed to low awareness among the investment community of high-potential and robust female-owned and/or led businesses that are investment ready. Additionally, many promising female entrepreneurs lack opportunities to engage with the investor community, especially those focused on investing in female owned and/or led businesses.

Following the workshop, ten shortlisted entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch their businesses at a showcase event on May 23 to judges, gender lens investors, service providers, accelerators and other invited participants. The panel of judges will select the top three entrepreneurs. The event will also facilitate interactions among investors and other stakeholders with the female entrepreneurs so that they can discuss possible investment and business engagements and increase investment in women-led businesses.

Interested in the training apply here

New on our Knowledge Center: The Northern Corridor Transport Observatory Report

Published on April 18, 2018

Northern_Corridor.JPGThe Northern Corridor Transport Observatory Report was prepared by the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority Secretariat in collaboration with stakeholders and with support from Trademark East Africa. The report identifies key issues affecting trade and transport along the Northern Corridor and puts forward key strategies for improving performance.

USAID Hub raises awareness of revised EAC standards to support ease of trade

Published on April 18, 2018

Key grain stakeholders in Burundi are now well informed of the nine revised East African Community (EAC) standards for cereals and pulses and two new standards on sampling and test methods, which will improve the flow of intra-regional trade in grains. On April 10, the USAID Hub and the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) conducted an introduction event in Bujumbura, Burundi to build awareness of the gazetted standards among stakeholders, highlight their importance in intra-regional food trade, food security, food quality and food safety and provide a platform to facilitate discussion on the roadmap to domesticate and implement the standards in Burundi.

The EAGC has been working with the EAC Secretariat, with support from the USAID Hub, to revise the nine standards and develop the two new standards. The EAC Council of Ministers approved the standards in November 2017 and subsequently gazetted them under EAC Legal Notice Number EAC/149/2017, dated December 7, 2017.

“Grain quality inconsistencies among EAC countries have been a major constraint on formal regional trade since standards are the language of trade,” said Yohannes Assefa, Director of Agriculture and Agribusiness at the USAID Hub. The lack of harmonized standards had increased transaction costs for cross-border trade and caused delays in border clearing. With the newly gazetted standards, however, it is expected that the flow of quality grain commodities from surplus to deficit regions will improve, which will, in turn, boost the EAC’s economic growth, resilience and integration.

The Burundi National Bureau of Statistics emphasized its plan to enforce compliance with the harmonised standards by tightening checks on grain quality parameters at border check points.

Burundi was the third stop for the USAID Hub and EAGC awareness-raising events. The partnership held similar workshops on the revised standards in Kenya in December 2017 and Uganda in February 2018 and will continue to hold similar forums in all five EAC Partner States. Mr. Gerald Masila, Managing Director at EAGC, explained, “EAGC plans to undertake capacity building and awareness forums in each country and to work with the EAC and National Bureaus of Standards to develop national standards implementation roadmaps as we call upon the EAC Partner States to move with speed to ensure effective implementation.”

The Hub trains East African designers to boost exports to U.S.

Published on April 12, 2018

The USAID Hub conducted trainings for 104 export-ready home décor and fashion accessory firms between March 20-30 in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The trainings supported African designers who are looking to meet U.S. demand for their products with increased exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The training focused on U.S. market trends, AGOA export requirements, product costing and pricing, technical requirements and certifications and labelling, packaging and shipping norms. The participants also received one-on-one product evaluations with the USAID Hub’s consultant who provided technical guidance on product improvement and development.

Watch this video to learn more about how to vendors can keep buyers happy: the buyer's perspective (Volume 1).

USAID Hub works with EAGC to address the trade finance gap for traders and millers

Published on April 12, 2018

The USAID Hub is working with the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) to develop a Trade Facilitation Fund that will address gaps in access to trade finance for grain traders and millers across the East African Community (EAC). This fund will accumulate a capital base, which will provide a new financing option for EAGC members and facilitate regional grain trade.

Through consecutive engagements with the EAGC, the Hub has identified the lack of access to trade finance as a major barrier to increased regional grain trade. Grain traders and millers struggle to access working capital from traditional channels due to onerous application requirements and the need for collateral. The lack of financing confines their capital bases, thereby inhibiting the volumes that traders and millers are able to purchase. This fund will enable traders to access credit to significantly increase their trade volumes, contributing to the USAID Hub’s objective of doubling intra-regional trade of food staples within the EAC. It will also support the G-Soko system, EAGC’s online grain trading platform, by availing financing to facilitate deals created in the system.

Previously, the USAID Hub has worked with the EAGC to support the EAC Secretariat in the revision of nine staple grain standards and development of two new standards for sampling and testing methods. The revised standards will reduce inefficiencies in region grain trade such as quality disputes and double-testing of grain at borders. Read more about the revised standards here.

New on our Knowledge Center: USAID Hub Business-to-Business (B2B) Fora Brief

Published on April 12, 2018

B2B_Brief.JPGThe USAID Hub Business-to-Business (B2B) Fora Brief describes how the USAID Hub promotes the  movement  of  staple  food grains   from   surplus   to   deficit   regions   by addressing   systemic   challenges   and   market constraints to achieve food security in Africa. It does    this    by    facilitating    private-sector-led business-to-business   (B2B)  fora that   connect grain traders from countries with surplus grains to   grain   traders   from   countries   that   are experiencing grain deficits and by connecting the private    sector    with    public    sector    trade specialists   who   can   help   remove   non-tariff barriers and  ease the logistical challenges of regional trade.

Build it like Costa Rica -- Rwanda specialty food producers look to leverage tourism for export gain

Published on April 09, 2018

On April 8, a delegation of Rwanda specialty food entrepreneurs arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica to participate in a USAID-Hub supported agri-tourism learning tour. Tourism and agriculture are two of Rwanda’s strongest contributors to gross domestic product and the participating entrepreneurs are keen to discover how the two sectors might be better integrated for maximum economic gain. Costa Rica has already accomplished the integration of agriculture and tourism for tremendous gain.

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