East Africa: B2B Trade Platform for Craft Products in Offing

Crafts producers in East Africa will soon be able to sell their products to international markets following the plans to establish an annual professional for Business-to-Business (B2B) trade fair for Home Décor, Fashion Accessories and Lifestyle products in the region.

Currently, there is no B2B trade platform for the crafts sector in the whole of East African region.

The Africa and Middle East World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) regional director, Mr Bernard Outah said there is need to establish B2B so that producers could easily sell their products to any country of their choice without problem.

He said, at the moment, the only option for producers to reach regional or international buyers is to travel around the region in search of potential buyers or to participate in trade fairs in South Africa, West Africa or International trade fairs in Europe or the US. He said the high cost of participation fails most of African crafts producers from attending international trade fairs.

“Failure to access market opportunities is one of the key challenges that face most of African crafts producers in East African region,” he said. According to Mr Outah, the establishment of B2B will enable East African crafts producers to excel in the area and boost their businesses at both local and international levels.

Meanwhile, the public has been urged to recognize the crafts sector as a key economic sector in the region and offer required support so that it can unfold its potentiality. CBI programme manager for the export coaching programme in East Africa Ms Heiydy van der Ploeg said there is need to promote and give support to craft sector so that it could help in building up East African countries economies.

According to UNESCO, the crafts sector is the second largest employer in the developing world behind agriculture. Most of those engaged in crafts are majority women with little or no education.

The global crafts sector is valued at USD 34bn/- per annum and 65 percent of global crafts exports come from developing countries. East Africa is one of the most important crafts producing regions on the African continent.

Its geographical location has made it a melting pot of different cultures, resulting in a rich diversity of crafts skills and products.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Mr Frank Matseart said crafts are important part of the East African trade story but it receives little input from various stakeholders.

He added that a growing tourism sector in the region offers the potential to sell products to tourists through souvenir and gift shops.

“Many hotels and lodges, besides sourcing products for their own in-house gift shops also look for interior decoration products to decorate their houses,” he said.

For the first time, professional craft trade fair is scheduled to take place in the country from September 23rd to 25th, this year.

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