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UGA to host East African entrepreneurs, trade representatives

The Office of International Public Service and Outreach will host a delegation of eight entrepreneurs and trade association representatives from Kenya 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 U.S. and East Africa. The visitors will be in Georgia Feb. 20 through March 10.

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; 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, 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. 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,” says Seda.

“Trade is more effective than aid in stimulating economic growth in developing countries,” Ames says. “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, participants will receive an extensive marketing portfolio customized for the merchandise in which they trade, including detailed import-export information, regulations regarding tariffs and non-tariff 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,” says 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.