African countries are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of developing trade capacity in order to achieve effective participation in the regional and world trading system and to reap the full benefits of improved access to these markets (World Bank). There is wide recognition that capacity building and training are prerequisites to economic and social Development and capacity building and training have long been recognized as an important component of most trade development activities. Right from the start of the TMEA Traidlinks export development programme, TMEA placed considerable emphasis on capacity building and skills development, to ensure longer-term sustainability and impact of the outcomes of the programme and it was important that all those involved in the export development programme improved their skills and understanding of all aspects of exporting. The programme was implemented in partnership with Rwanda Development Board, Kigali Independent University and the relevant private sector stakeholders and the overall programme budget was estimated at about US$ 1.4million from 2013 to 2015. With regard to the priorities to improving the export capacity of Rwanda and the EAC as whole. This case study highlights the benefits of enhancing delivery of export advisory services in Rwanda. The TMEA Traidlinks supported programme is just one of the TMEA programmes that is helping the private sector in Rwanda and in the EAC do business in ways that are not only good for company development but also good for competitiveness and economic development of a country. Mr. Evary Murasa, one of the export advisers that was trained with support from the TMEA supported Traidlinks (Export Development) programme is located in Kigali Rwanda and is featured in this case study.
2. THE ISSUE
The constraints faced by Rwanda potential exporters in accessing EAC markets included and weak exports networks and inadequate exporting skills by the potential exporters and the low productivity of labour. Development of an enabling environment for enhancing export capacities and skills are key for promotion of exports to benefit from the opportunities offered by the EAC markets. Therefore development of productive capacities, improving exports promotion and marketing strategies including provision of business development services to enhance the knowledge of market requirements and trends by producers and exporters as well as establishing a more supportive business environment are considered critical steps to growing Rwanda exports to the region and beyond.
3. RESPONSE AND APPROACH
TMEA contracted Traidlinks, an Irish funded NGO with wide experience in the Region and based in Kampala to run a pilot project to help 10 selected Rwandan companies enter the Ugandan market. The Market Linked pilot worked through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – the national export promotion agency by providing training, hands on tailored support to companies to penetrate the Ugandan market including market research, sales missions, and sales follow up.
Following the success of the pilot project, three programmes in Rwanda were developed namely:
- MarketLinked Programme aimed at linking Rwandan potential exporters to the EAC market.
- Export Adviser Initiative- Build the capacity and competency of the qualified Rwandan local business consultants to support exporters in preparing and executing their export business plans;
- Export Capacity Programme- provide direct technical support to new and existing exporters to identify and/or exploit export growth opportunities.
3.1. Key stakeholders
The key stakeholders that were involved in the programme implementation in Rwanda included, TMEA, Rwanda Development Board, Kigali Independent University and Export ready private sector companies and local business consultants.
3.2 Project goals
The overall objective of the programme was to enhance the export capacity of Rwanda and Burundi companies to increase trade values thus contributing to economic growth and ultimately, poverty reduction.
3.3 Project Innovations and Implementation
The TMEA Traidlinks supported programme developed the Export Adviser Initiative component to build the capacity and competency of the qualified Rwandan local business consultants to support exporters in preparing and executing their export business plans. Traidlinks with support from TMEA selected and trained 19 applicants on Export Development. This involved working closely with the Kigali Independent University with the intention of building skills capacity of local consultants. It was a 6-month training with modules focusing on planning; market entry strategies; basics of international trade fairs and exhibitions; exports costing and pricing; exports logistics; packaging and labeling; quality standards; selling in foreign markets; finance in export trade; basics of consulting and was delivered by the experts in these respective areas.
3.4 Results achieved
With support from TMEA, 9 export advisers qualified for award of certificate after the training they had undergone. The export advisers gained skills and knowledge in exporting which has enabled them ease the network of marketing products in the EAC because advisers are conversant with the export business in the EAC and they are able to advise exporters on market requirements. The export advisers narrated that the knowledge and skills gained enhanced their confidence and credence in providing export advisory services to exporters. They further said that this changed their attitudes and the way they carried out their work because of the increased stock of knowledge and capacities they had gained at the end of the training. One of the biggest achievements of the programme was that Rwanda had incorporated the TMEA Traidlinks component of export advisers into its revised national export strategy and this is going to go a long way in ensuring sustainability of the programme in Rwanda.
4. OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
TMEA investing in capacity building of individuals and consequently adding to the local stock of knowledge of the export advisers was an essential element in improving their productivity in Rwanda and the EAC as whole because the region will be benefiting from the export related services that they provide hence contributing to an enabling business environment for exporters. Despite these advisers having been trained, they need to be registered by the Rwanda Development Board so as to gain full recognition by the Rwandan government. According to the export advisers, without them being integrated into the RDB structure, they will not be able to get contracts with companies therefore, RDB should designate and have a database for export advisers that companies can easily access.
As a result of the TMEA support, Rwanda has been able to incorporate the component of export adviser into its revised National Export Development Strategy which will make the programme results sustainable beyond the programme life span. This will be a great opportunity for the export advisers because they will be recognized and supported by the government of Rwanda. In addition, they will be recognized by the government and they will be able to get opportunities to advise and train exporters at a fee which will help them earn income and on the side of the exporters will have the export advisory services much more closer to them and they will be able to export from an informed point of view and also their confidence in the export markets will be greatly enhanced hence promoting exports.
4.2 Lessons learned
Capacity building is a continuous rather than a discrete process so the trained advisers need to continue having refresher courses and training to improve their knowledge base and became better export advisers.
Political will and commitment from Rwanda Development Board is necessary for successful implementation of the export adviser activities in Rwanda. This will also help them get technical and financial support from the government to ensure sustainability.
The mechanism of export adviser when fully operational in Rwanda and the whole of EAC has the potential to increase intra-regional exports and trade and also increase cooperation within the EAC due to the networks and contacts created.
5. BENEFICIARY PROFILE
Evary Murasa an export adviser locates in Kigali Rwanda that was initially providing business solution to traders was trained by TMEA supported Traidlinks programme on export development and with this support his skills in export advising have been greatly enhanced. Evary Murasa now specializes in export promotion advising, enterprise development, social and economic development and provides these services to both private and public sector clients in Rwanda. He says that he does this by designing, implementing successful and effective business services that support the growth of businesses and the community in an effective and professional manner
Evary says that the TMEA supported initiative has enhanced his professional growth in business and will use the skills acquired to encourage the creation of its benefits to communities and expand skills opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Rwanda. Evary has been able to advise some Rwandan exports and help them export and says that with the support from the TMEA and the Rwanda Development Board, he will be able to get more exporters to advise and help them meet export requirements. “I received so much value from the TMEA Traidlinks supported programme and not just in terms of access to new business advisory opportunities but also through business support, mentoring and skills training”, he said. “I am very happy to have worked with the TMEA supported Traidlinks team and grateful for the good collaboration,” he added.
With some export advisers trained in Rwanda by the TMEA programme, the successful implementation of the export advisory services relies on the number of exporters ready to take up the services and also the level of government to support export promotion. If well implemented, the export advisers have the potential to bring remarkable changes and improvement on export service delivery and this will enable exporters enjoy and benefit from the services provided.