UGA to host East African entrepreneurs

ATHENS, Ga. – The Office of International Public Service and Outreach (IPSO) at the University of Georgia will host a delegation of eight entrepreneurs and trade association representatives from Kenya, Feb. 20 through March 10, as the first phase of “U.S.-Africa Trade: Finding Markets for East African Entrepreneurs,” a two-year, grant-funded project to strengthen trade between the United States and East Africa.

The overall project is co-directed by Glenn Ames, director of IPSO, and Stephen Seda, executive director of the Atlanta-based East Africa-American Business Council (EAABC); other project collaborators include Job Dieleman and Charles Boyanton from the International Trade Division of UGA’s Business Outreach Services/Small Business Development Center and faculty from the African Studies Institute. The U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs awarded the grant for $159,000 under the auspices of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), enacted in May 2000. The goal of AGOA is to offer access to the U.S. market and tangible incentives for African countries to open their economies and build free markets.

Participants in this initial visit are primarily business owners and trade association representatives who export various goods, including textiles, tea and coffee, leather goods and native arts and crafts. Over the course of their three-week stay, delegates will tour and attend meetings in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah.

“During their visit, they will receive training and information relating to U.S. trade regulations and meet with importers, wholesalers and retailers who may be able to open markets to Kenyan goods,” said Seda.

“Trade is more effective than aid in stimulating economic growth in developing countries,” Ames said. “Through this project, we are combining the market access provisions of the AGOA legislation with actual training in U.S. market conditions in order to build lasting business relationships. This is the goal of the Kenyan delegation’s visit to Georgia.”

In addition to attending meetings, each participant will receive an extensive marketing portfolio customized for the merchandise in which they trade, and will include detailed import/export information, regulations regarding tariffs and nontariff barriers, contact information for potential import, wholesale and retail clients, and focused marketing information for the goods. Undergraduate interns majoring in international business and international affairs created marketing portfolios for each of the participants.

“This program illustrates a strong function of UGA’s public service and outreach mission, which is to provide technical assistance to international communities,” said Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach. “It also provides a group of very talented undergraduate students with an opportunity to participate in a hands-on service learning project.”

In the second phase of the project, U.S. participants will travel to Kenya for joint training of African entrepreneurs in export marketing. In phase three of the program, six southeastern U.S. business managers will participate in a two-week trade mission to Kenya to build upon the business relationships developed during the earlier phases of the project.