UN agency pledges to assist East African SMEs

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The International Trade Centre (ITC) on Monday pledged to assist East Africa’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to the India market.

Govind Venuprasad, Coordinator of ITC’s project dubbed “Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa” (SITA) said this in Nairobi on the sidelines of the Kenya-Indian agribusiness forum.

The coordinator said that it was providing small firms in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda with advisory and strategic support to enable them to improve their competitiveness.

“By using the partnership with Indian institutions and business, we are enabling East African SMEs in select agricultural value chains to boost their revenues through exports,’’ Venuprasad said.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) is visiting Kenya with a delegation of 27 companies from India primarily in the agricultural sector, who are seeking investment, joint venture and other business opportunities.

The beneficiaries of the SITA projects are in the textile, apparel, leather, spices, pulses and edible oil sectors.

ITC is also encouraging investment partnerships between Indian and eastern Africa companies as part of the south-south cooperation.

Venuprasad said that countries have traditionally relied on the west as key markets for their products.

“We are keen to help the East African firms to diversify their product portfolio in order to enhance their incomes,’’ he added.

He noted that one of the biggest challenges facing SMEs was access to finance, markets and compliance with international product standards.

The ITC is a development agency that supports the internationalisation of SMEs, which is the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the UN.

Suzan O