Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trade Hub Network to promote West African agricultural trade

25 March, 2014. Abt Associates has won a $48.6 million contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase regional trade competitiveness in West Africa, improve food security, and reduce poverty under USAID's Trade Hub Network.

Under the contract, Abt will promote broader, more sustainable growth by improving both the private sector's capacity and the policies, rules and practices that govern regional and external trade. The project is also designed to increase regional and international exports, jobs, and investments.

Working with Abt are four U.S. small businesses (Banyan Global, JE Austin, SSG Advisors and Kanava International) as well as local partners ISSER (Ghana), Performances Management Consulting (Senegal) and Catek Groupe (Mali). The Trade Hub Network will work with many associations, including the Borderless Alliance, the African Cashew Alliance, the West African Grains Alliance and COFENABVI, which represents livestock farmers and traders.

Based in Accra, Ghana, with satellite offices in Dakar, Senegal and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, project staff will collaborate closely with ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, and travel frequently to its member countries and throughout the region.

The Trade Hub Network merges two previous USAID projects: the Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP), managed by Abt Associates, and the West Africa Trade Hub. Both projects worked across the region, building networks, developing the capacity of sector associations, and addressing obstacles to cross-border and overseas trade.

The USAID-funded West African Global Competitiveness Hub (WATH) enhanced West Africa’s trade competitiveness to take greater advantage of the increased trading opportunities provided through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other global trade initiatives.Abt Associates lead the export business development component of the project, working with processors and exporters of shea butter, cashews, textiles and apparel, frozen fish, processed foods, handcrafts and home furnishings, and furniture and wood products to target the U.S. market. This involved the following activities:
  • Carrying out in-depth value chain studies;
  • Identifying and screening export-ready firms;
  • Preparing these firms to participate in and exhibit products at major U.S. trade shows (and selected regional and EU exhibitions) through training workshops and one-on-one consultations;
  • Improving product presentation and shelf life, particularly packaging and labeling;
  • Preparing firms to engage with prospective U.S. buyers and address their questions, issues and concerns about sourcing products from West Africa;
  • Assisting exhibitors at U.S. trade shows (booth design & set-up; signage; materials to hand-out to prospective buyers; selecting product samples for exhibiting, etc.);
  • Helping West African firms to follow up on sales leads in the U.S. after trade shows upon return to their countries; and
  • Assisting West African firms to identify sources of finance for investment, expansion, and meeting working capital and trade finance needs.

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