“I met with some impressive buyers, which could be life-changing,” said Varsheeni Raghupathy, Co-Founder and CEO of Ikwetta, a Kenyan producer of handcrafted leather sandals. Varsheeni met two big U.S. fashion buyers at the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) expo, held December 4-6, who requested samples. If the buyers are satisfied with the samples and confirm their orders, they can raise Ikwetta's profile within a wide distribution network and influence other U.S. companies to also follow suit.
FFANY, the premier New York-based trade show for footwear, provided a platform to promote Ethiopia and Kenya's strength in footwear manufacturing. Ikwetta, along with five Ethiopian firms, unveiled their newest collections at the USAID Hub-sponsored exhibition room. The companies established 29 business-to-business linkages with U.S. buyers who placed $200,000 in potential orders, dependent upon quotations and product samples.
The Hub’s support of Ethiopian and Kenyan companies at FFANY contributes to its goal to increase footwear exports to the U.S. under AGOA. Trade shows allow firms to market and sell their products to customers. Firms can also build brand awareness, assess competition and learn about design trends. Trade shows have contributed to the $491.5 million in exports under AGOA to date from USAID Hub-supported firms.