Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) in partnership with USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID TradeHub) has launched a new programme which will increase the investor, export readiness and competitiveness of 100 SMEs in Southern Africa.
The USAID funded ‘Enhanced Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Investment and Export Readiness Through a Digital Platform’ programme is aimed at SMEs in Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia who are either already exporting or interested in exporting products to South Africa and/or to the United States.
The programme aims to leverage the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a United States Trade Act that significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, and valid until 2025, to drive export trade for the SMEs.
The objectives of this new AWIEF programme are to: increase exports from the Southern African countries to South Africa;) increase exports from all the nine targeted Southern African countries to the US, leveraging AGOA; and support firms seeking specific trade-related technology transfer (e.g. labelling, branding, laboratories).
The comprehensive 8-week programme will help strengthen participants’ governance, regulatory compliance, and risk management capabilities and will be implemented as an online training course through the AWIEF digital platform – the AWIEF Community.
Irene Ochem, Founder and CEO, AWIEF, said: “We are very excited to have won this project funding from USAID and to be partnering with USAID TradeHub. SMEs are the power engines of Africa economies and represent the bulk of all businesses in Africa. This programme is about supporting Southern African entrepreneurs to expand their businesses by accessing new markets and trading beyond their borders. It is also important for SMEs to leverage the huge opportunities offered by AGOA to enter into international trade with the US.”
Applications are invited from all SMEs that are registered in the above-mentioned Southern African countries. Priority industry sectors include: agriculture, agro-processing, textiles and apparel.