Feature Stories

East African Entrepreneurs Visit the University of Georgia

Members of the University of Georgia community are taking the first step in developing a mutually beneficial trade relationship between Kenyan entrepreneurs and the United States.

From February 20 through March 10, the Office of International Public Service and Outreach (IPSO) is hosting a delegation of eight entrepreneurs and trade representatives from Kenya. This visit is the first phase of "U.S.-Africa Trade: Finding Markets for East African Entrepreneurs," a two-year grant-funded project intended to strengthen trade between the U.S. and East Africa. The overall project is co-directed by Glenn Ames, director of IPSO, and Stephen Seda, executive director of the Atlanta-based East Africa-American Business Council. Other project collaborators include Job Dieleman and Charles Boyanton from the International Trade Division of UGA's Business Outreach Services/Small Business Development Center and faculty from the African Studies Institute.

The Kenyan entrepreneurs are primarily business owners and trade representatives who export various goods, including textiles, tea and coffee, leather goods and native arts and crafts. Participants will tour and attend meetings in Athens, Atlanta and Savannah.

"During their visit, they will receive training and information relating to U.S. trade regulations and meet with importers, wholesalers and retailers who may be able to open markets to Kenyan goods," said Seda.

In addition to attending meetings, participants will receive an extensive marketing portfolio customized for the merchandise in which they trade. The portfolios were created by undergraduate interns majoring in international business and public affairs and provide detailed import/export information, regulations regarding tariffs and non-tariff barriers, contact information for potential import, wholesale and retail clients and focused marketing information for the goods.

"This program illustrates a strong function of UGA's public service and outreach mission, which is to provide technical assistance to international communities," said Dr. Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach. "It also provides a group of very talented undergraduate students with an opportunity to participate in a hands-on service learning project."

The visit and larger project was made possible through a $159,000 grant awarded by the U.S. State Department's Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), enacted in May 2000. The purpose of AGOA is to offer African countries access to the U.S. market and tangible incentives to encourage them to open their economies and build free markets.

Only the first step in the larger program, the Kenyan visit will later be followed with a visit by U.S. participants to Kenya where they will participate in joint training of African entrepreneurs in export marketing. The third phase of the program will allow six southeastern U.S. business managers to participate in a two-week trade mission to Kenya to follow-up on the relationships developed earlier in this program.

"Trade is more effective than aid in stimulating economic growth in developing countries," Ames said. "Through this project, we are combining the market access provisions of the AGOA legislation with actual training in U.S. market conditions in order to build lasting business relationships."

Published Monday,