More than 600 participants from 73 countries set to attend WEDF

8 September 2014
ITC News

Business and government leaders to put focus on unlocking SMEs job growth through increased trade

A record number of participants will attend the 14th World Export Development Forum (WEDF), which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 15-17 September.

More than six hundred participants from 73 countries, with one-quarter coming from outside Africa, will have the opportunity to learn from global thought leaders and practitioners. They will engage in a debate with entrepreneurs, policymakers and representatives of trade support institutions on how to address the unique challenges faced by SMEs in developing countries and economies in transition and use them as vehicles for job creation.

The theme of this year’s WEDF, the premier global conference dedicated to the export competitiveness of small and medium-sizes enterprises (SMEs), is ‘SMEs: Creating jobs through trade’. The 3rd Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF) will be held in parallel to WEDF, and will be connecting women vendors with international buyers.

The largest overseas delegation will come from India and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and will be headed by CII President Ajay S. Shriram. The delegation will include business leaders from Indian multinationals as well as business groups.

African countries will be well represented, too, with 60 participants from Kenya and over 50 from both Uganda and Nigeria. Most delegates from neighbouring countries are representatives of SMEs coming to attend the business networking sessions that will take place during the three-day event. Around 400 participants have registered for these networking sessions, which aim to establish business partnerships in agro-processing, horticulture, textiles and clothing, tourism, information and communication technology, and the services sectors.

Most popular: branding and Impact investment

Based on preferences expressed by participants during registration, the most popular interactive breakout sessions are “Building a brand: export marketing for developing countries” and “Growing SMEs through impact investing.”

The session on branding will feature success stories and lessons learned from investing in branding at both the sector level and the company level in developing countries. Speakers include global coffee adviser Mary Pettit, who led the development of international branding for Colombian coffee, Bandula Egodage, Chairman and CEO of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Janet Nkubana, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Rwandan handicraft company Gahaya Links, and Marcus Höpperger, Director of the Legislative Advice Division at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The session on impact investment will discuss how trade support institutions can help SMEs access the growing market for alternative financing. Speakers include Cecile Fruman, Director of the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank, Jean-Louis Ekra, Chairman and President of the African Export-Import Bank, Dan Awendo, CEO of InvesteQ Capital and Robert Dijksterhuis, Head of Development Cooperation at

For information on all six parallel session, see this article.

WEDF is organized by the International Trade Centre, the only United Nations organization with an exclusive focus on assisting SMEs. The event will be hosted by the Rwanda Development Board. WEDF sponsors include CII, the Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (India), One UN Rwanda, RwandAir and Trademark East Africa.

Visit the WEDF webpage for more information on the programme, high-level speakers and opportunities to network with hundreds of other participants. And don’t forget to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for news updates.

The conference will be broadcast live via the website.