Ugandan exporters are breaking new ground in previously unchartered markets like Kenya bringing in millions of dollars in sales.
A Uganda Exports Promotion Board and Irish project dubbed market linked programme are hand holding a set of exporters through training and actual penetration.
In less than two years under the same programme some 60 companies have entered the Kenyan and Rwandan market beefing up the country’s exports base alongside previously established companies like Roofings.
Another 18 companies were this week inducted into the SME exports programme that will ultimately see them travel for a sales mission in Mwanza in Tanzania In mid-October.
Robert Moodie, Traidlinks export development manager said in just five months from October 2010 to March 2011, 15 companies have been able to make sales worth about $3 million.
Florence Kata, executive director of UEPB said they deploy a consultant in the target market who receives and markets the products.
“When they return, we follow them up until there is dramatic improvement in the export readiness,” said Kata. Kata says they consider companies that have the capacity to enter the market and sustain supply.
“The impact is greater because it demystifies the idea that you cannot trade in Kenya,” said Kata. Kata asked participants to give the skills workshop the utmost seriousness and send decision makers.
“This is a serious preparation for SMEs to penetrate new markets, I don’t want to come here today and tomorrow find a new face and then we are going to the market with the boss,” said Kata.
UEPB also considers annual turnover, number of employees, export experience, quality management and certification before selecting the appropriate companies.
According to UEPB all the 12 companies received sample orders from Kenya in 2009 to the tune of $205,570 and are expecting business worth over $9m in two years.
Then in 2010, 17 participating companies took part in business to business meetings with 58 Kenyan companies and 89 Rwandan companies across a series of 78 and 109 appointments.
“The sales mission established strong strategic impact in raising the profile of the Ugandan export and corporate sector in Kenya and Rwanda in 2010,” said UEPB.
Moodie asked upcoming exporters to cooperate with each other when outside Uganda and avoid unnecessary infighting so the country’s image is not tainted.
“When you cooperate with each other you get better results than when you see yourselves as competitors because you see ways of complimenting each other,” said Moodie.
Moodie said through cooperation, a lot of technical barriers can be overcome.
“You will have much quicker successes but if you go on your own, you will get very exhausted,” said Moodie.