Dutch agency helps boost local export capacity
CBI, a Dutch agency that promotes imports from developing countries, has signed an agreement with RDB and PSF to help local firms boost their exports.
With Rwanda ratio of exports to imports standing at one to four clear measures are needed to improve the country’s export base so as to improve its balance of trade.
It is in this context that the Dutch center for promotion of imports from developing countries (CBI) entered in a tripartite agreement with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) aimed at providing technical assistance to export-based firms in Rwanda to increase their export share to Europe.
It is the second agreement of its kind, after CBI already signed an agreement in 2008 with the former Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA), now part of RDB, aimed at institutional strengthening and the establishment of a market information service.
The new tripartite partnership is aimed at providing equitable economic development by providing export market information and management support to SMEs.
The provision of market information and training to prospective export-oriented firms will ensure that there is an increase in exports especially to Europe. “The program focuses on export promotion in developing countries which is crucial at this stage of Rwandan development,” said Frans Makken, the Dutch ambassador to Rwanda.
However for exports to increase business development is crucial. It is in this regard that CBI will also provide other services to businesses such as assessment of business services and organization, since local companies lack exposure to foreign markets and services provided are limited.
“CBI is to establish a one-stop information center in November 2009 and will also reach out to those we give information to,” remarked Bastiaan Bijl, the CBI country coordinator.
On top of that, CBI will train commercial attaches who will be available with firsthand information regarding the export market. Also, the Dutch agency will train export coaches who will also provide information and guidance to export oriented firms.
Tourism and horticulture
However, not all sectors benefit from CBI as it has prioritized tourism and horticulture. So far 9 tourism companies have applied for CBI technical support with four of them attending tourism trade fairs in Netherlands.
“Apart from tourism, we will also work with firms dealing in horticulture, fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Shinta Oosterwaal, the country director for CBI.
Oosterwaal further explained that for a company to receive support from CBI, it has to be audited in aspects such as content quality and supply which the company has to guarantee as well as in business organization.
As regards funding, a total of US$ 1.5 million has been invested in the program with CBI contributing US$ 1 million which is provided in terms of technical support while the remainder is footed by RDB through provision of logistics and other facilitations.
CBI programs are currently being applied in 18 countries and have achieved considerable successes in countries such as Kenya, which has increased its export of beans and Mali which has improved its mango exports.