SMEs get information portal on export market opportunities

Farmers sort avocados loaded onto a pickup at the Gatia-ini Trading Centre in Kigumo constituency on September 12, 2020.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu I Nation Media Group

Small and medium sized enterprises eyeing the export market will soon access an information portal on how to improve their businesses abroad.

The exporters portal will contain information regarding the requirements for participating in export trade as well as market intelligence on the products that are likely to do well in the export market.

“The information on the platform will be provided through various windows, which will take aspiring exporters through the market requirements, as well as walk them through the exporting process. Exporters will also get an opportunity to engage experts on the subject matter via the platform,” noted Dr Wilfred Marube, CEO of The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA).

Marube said the platform, which took a year and a half to develop, is complete and only remains to be officially launched.

It was formulated through stakeholder collaboration to create a digital linkage with other government agencies such as KenTrade, the Kenya Plant Health Inspecorate Service, among others.

This collaboration was aimed at reducing the inefficiencies caused by repetitiveness in licensing among other processes that SMEs have to go through before they qualify to conduct business in the export market.

“There is a lot of duplication and repetitiveness in the export business. Many times, you find an SME has to go through a list of 10 requirements from different state agencies to meet the threshold for exporting. We wanted to have a situation whereby at any point, anybody walking through the portal can access all the information they need about exporting,” said Dr Marube.

Register sellers

The platform will also register sellers in the local market, and buyers in the foreign market, allowing them to transact on the digital space.

By extension, this move is expected to remove unscrupulous middlemen from the supply chain.

“We understand that we need to link very many players, that is the entrepreneurs, the producers and exporters with other players in government departments as well as in private sector, and that is what this platform seeks to do,” the CEO added.

Marube said KEPROBA has also initiated an exporters academy as part of its efforts to boost the volume of exports. The Academy has training modules which seek to create awareness around export trade.

He noted that there are many people who have potential to become exporters but are not aware that there are opportunities within the export ecosystem. The academy also seeks to generate interest and encourage more people to participate in export trade, by outlining some of the loopholes they can use to easily benefit from the business.

“The export sector has numerous value chains, and it is not just about exporting these products in their rawest form. We can have value addition, where we move to exporting packaged products which could fetch us more money.”

That means one does not have to be a producer or farmer to be able to export. You can buy the products locally, take them through the due process in value addition then export.

Statistics indicate that Kenya is yet to tap into its full exporting potential, with most of its produce consumed locally. However, an increase in international demand for Kenya’s produce has seen this change, and over the years, the volume of exports from the country has been on an upward trajectory.

According to data from the Horticulture Directorate, the volume of avocado produced, for instance, has jumped by almost 60 percent over a course of 10 years from 145,000 tons to 365,000 tons to meet the growing demand in the export market.

Fruit exports

Avocado now accounts for nearly half of the country’s fruit exports, and nearly one fifth of the country’s horticultural exports. In the year 2020, Kenya exported nearly 70,000 tons of the fruit, a 16 percent jump from 59,000 tons exported in 2019, fetching the country Sh14 billion in foreign revenue.

This figure of avocado exports, among other horticultural produce could go higher, but a lack of awareness on the requirements from foreign markets has impeded many small holder farmers from participating in export trade.

“There are many things that people do not know about the export market. The European Union, for instance, in its policies cannot purchase any produce grown in a deforested area, so, if you cut trees to plant pineapples for instance, the EU cannot purchase those pineapples,” noted Dr Marube.


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