US open for small Kenya businesses

August 8, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – Kenya’s small traders will now have easier access to the US market following an initiative to link two export promotion agencies from both countries.

Kenya’s Export Promotion Council on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) from the United States, which will enable them to develop partnerships between small and medium enterprises.

“When we get back to the US my team will begin to work on a strategy, which we’ll then put in front of the EPC in October and we hope to bring a group of business people in Kenya so that they get an opportunity to meet and just begin to build those relationships,” said MBDA Regional Director Patricia Hanes.

The strategy, which is expected to be ready by October, would implement the MOU to ensure its success.

The two organisations met two days after the end of the eighth African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, which sought to among other things find ways in which the 40 African countries that are eligible for the programme can benefit from the preferential treatment it provides.

Ms Hanes told Capital News that this new idea would be an extension of the AGOA pact as it would help the small businesses have more opportunities to become competitive and sell more of their products in America.

Entrepreneurs would be required to look through the products they can export under AGOA, research the (US) market to know what the buyer wants and produce quality goods that can appeal to them.

“Its not easy, it’s bureaucratic but if you are patient to go through these processes, in the end it would be much rewarding,” she said of the trillion-dollar US market.

Ms Hanes challenged small Kenyan exporters to establish partnerships with other entrepreneurs in the same line of business to enable them benefit from economies of scale.

She observed that one of their major problems was their inability to manufacture enough products that meet the demands of the American market and they therefore need to work in clusters to achieve this goal.

“If you are trying to sell to the US market and you have something that catches on and people want it, you’d need millions of that product and not just a hundreds and it would be very difficult if you want to sell that way. So partnering and working in clusters is probably a big challenge that they are going to have to overcome,” she said.

The director added that while the US government needed to do more to assist Africa to take advantage of the current trade programmes, the continent should strive to utilise its vast resources to its potential.

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