USAID strengthens African links to markets

Succeeding in the Namibian trade industry
Wetumwene Shikage
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Southern Trade Investment Hub and the ministry of industrialisation and trade brought representatives together at an event to share successes and lessons on providing economic growth opportunities in Namibia through the USAID TradeHub.

The event took place at Hilton Hotel in Windhoek yesterday, 3 August, to celebrate the meaningful opportunities and links created by the USAID TradeHub for local brands to thrive in South African and US markets.
Representatives from brands in Namibia and US market system experts shared experiences gained to enhance the flow of trade and capital.
USAID TradeHub disseminated resources and tools for use by Namibian exporters and held a networking session to create a fun and intentional way for Namibians to connect with potential international partners.
Ministry executive director Sikongo Haihambo thanked the US government for the partnership, and said: “We look forward to continued collaboration between the Namibian government through the ministry and the US government through the USAID TradeHub.”

AGOA program
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a trade preference programme providing duty-free access into the US for over 6 400 qualifying exports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries including Namibia.
US Charge’ d’Affairs in Namibia, Jessica Long, said through the USAID TradeHub, Namibian firms achieve AGOA and non-AGOA related exports.
“These exports are valued at US$2.7 million (about N$ 43 million) over the past three years,” she said. Long added that the USAID TradeHub has worked with several Namibian export companies including Taneta Investment, Desert Hills, Plastic Packaging, local charcoal producers and other firms.
Experienced trade promotion service providers build and expand professional networks with international importers to make this a success.
“You can now buy Namibian marula oil and charcoal in the US,” she said.

Recognising African brands
Catalyze, an event organiser and international show agency, focuses on helping African companies develop their businesses in new, fast, developing and strategic markets.
Passionate about introducing companies to international buyers, managing director of Catalyze, Rex Bowden, joined the event virtually to share a presentation that helps promote links between local brands and international buyers. He highlighted the importance of knowing how to communicate with buyers and why having a digital footprint is important. “Communicating with buyers requires you to find out what they want, their pain points such as freight, customs and storage, minimum order quantities and what certifications they need which should be recognised,” he said.
He further said it is important to give people confidence to buy from Africa. By having an appealing digital footprint which is easily made available to potential international buyers is a smart move. Bowden added that social media is a great tool.
“Long PowerPoints and PDFs are not desired as much as videos are. Easy and quick information with good content showing your product in use captures the buyer and you can make a great impression,” he said.
Working with Namibian brands through USAID and the Southern Africa Trade Investment Hub, country director of Fair and Square in Swaziland Julie Nixon said creating lookbooks and catalogues is another great way to capture potential international buyers.
“Have a listing which can be seen by buyers. Know your story and know how to tell it,” she said.
The managing director of Plastic Packaging, Nico Du Plessis, said unlocking the opportunity to export products of the company has been a great achievement. The company, which turns 40 on 26 August, is still led by passion.
“Having passion for business is important to make it regionally and globally. We provide packaging needs and solutions with products sold in local retail stores. The easier you make buying and selling, the more successful you become in trade. “Have processes and systems in place to cater to international customers and those who would like to buy from you and a unique product which is desired,” he said.