Keeping up the momentum during a crisis

30 March 2020
ITC News

From avocadoes to coffee and spices, smaller businesses and public and private institutions in East African Community countries, continue to receive MARKUP support amid COVID-19.

Mambo Coffee is a green specialty coffee exporter from Tanzania. They export both Arabica and Robusta varieties of coffee. With the exception of one buyer in South Africa, their customers are based outside the African continent.

It has been unavoidable. Travel restrictions, an effect of COVID-19 have begun to take their toll on their business. They cannot ship their products as before. The restrictions are affecting their ability to meet with buyers and have field officers visit them on site.

Border closures with neighbouring countries are further restricting any kind of travel. With most of their business counterparts based in Europe and Asia working from home, communications have slowed down significantly and carrying on with business as usual has become a challenge.

The situation might have posed a number of challenges for Mambo Coffee and others however, International Trade Centre under the MARKUP initiative continues with its efforts to help deliver better results, reduce losses, and improve market linkages and access to finance.

Small and medium businesses and trade institutions are being provided remote advisory in the five East African Community countries including Burundi, Kenya, Rawanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Monitoring and reporting of results as well as preparations and planning for future activities remains in swing.

Remote support via internet and phone calls continues. Companies are being supported in obtaining certification. Virtual trainings on packaging and branding of products in the avocado, coffee, horticulture, spices and tea sectors go on.

Coffee industry experts remain engaged for preparing adapted training materials on trading and risk management.

These efforts during a difficult time are helpful in enabling businesses and institutions in unlocking the potential of new markets and providing increased opportunities of improved livelihoods in the region.

The Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) is a regional development initiative that aims to contribute to the economic growth of the East African Community (EAC). Jointly designed by the European Union, the EAC Secretariat and the governments of all five countries, the initiative is implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other national partners.