Sub-Saharan Africa

Southern Africa Trade Competitiveness Project (TCP)

Client: United States Agency for International Development

2004-2010, SEGIR Priv. II


The Southern Africa TCP (also referred to as the USAID Trade Hub) worked with the private sector to promote exports from key sectors of the Southern African economy to global markets. The project emphasized private-sector, market-led approaches to achieving export competitiveness and regional trade in agriculture, including food security. Over the life of the project, the TCP helped generate $46.3 million in African Growth and Opportunity Act and intra-regional agriculture and apparel trade.

The USAID Trade Hub increased the competitiveness of selected industries and value chains, specifically apparel, specialty food, and fresh produce. By raising the awareness of regional and international buyers and linking producers to markets, the Hub increased exports and jobs in the region, placed Southern Africa on the map for sourcing in apparel and specialty foods, and contributed to system-wide transformation in the value chains related to these products. The Hub assisted 500 Southern Africa firms with advice and information about exporting to the US and laid the groundwork for nearly 2,000 buyer-seller relationships through trade shows, business-to-business events, and buyer engagement. Read about specific successes below.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs:  The Hub’s assistance to Keedo clothing, a high-end children’s clothing company, ensured that more than 200 families in the Cape townships kept their jobs. Keedo’s manufacturing suppliers are women-owned, small manufacturing operations that are deliberately structured to enable women to save on transportation costs and look after their children.

Promoting Regional Integration: The Hub’s Business-to-Business apparel event helped keep orders in Africa that would have otherwise gone to Asia or other regions of the world by bringing producers of the entire apparel value chain together under one roof. The industry became aware of opportunities within Africa, which ensured new business and market leads on the continent. Total orders exceeded $10 million and ongoing relationships developed with 15 major buyers, including retail chains in South Africa.

Branding Africa: CARANA’s “Source Africa” pavilions placed Africa on the map for US buyers at the MAGIC Apparel Show, held twice annually in Las Vegas. CARANA won “Best in Show” at the 2008 MAGIC Show for exceptional design, service, and presentation. Thanks to repeated presentation of African apparel companies at this show, buyers now recognize the brand and associate it with high-quality garment production in Africa.

Increasing Competitiveness: The Hub’s technical assistance in such aspects as fabric and trim sourcing, shipping information, pricing information, marketing, and regulatory advice helped boost the competitiveness of clothing exports and regional apparel trade in Southern Africa.

Increasing Food Security: By successfully linking African food products to regional and international markets, the Hub helped to create a sustainable model of market offtake, which in turn directly affected smallholder farmers in Southern Africa who supplied the raw ingredients. Companies like Labourdonnais in Mauritius began to employ more workers and source additional inputs not only in Mauritius but also in South Africa, creating additional jobs for raw ingredient producers.

Agricultural Training: Sector experts worked with export-ready firms to address packaging, marketing, pricing, shipping, and logistical issues impacting agricultural products. The Hub collaborated with the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to train Southern African firms and entrepreneurs, leading to millions of dollars in new trade.

Assisting Female Farmers: Eswatini Swazi Kitchen, a women-owned and operated business in Manzini, Swaziland, raised the incomes of women farmers who scaled up production to feed growing export demand. The firm also donates proceeds to Manzini Youth Care, an organization supporting AIDS orphans.

Facilitating Investment: Most firms invested in improvements and expansions based on market opportunities developed through the Hub. The Hub also paved the way for investments; for example, the Hub conducted a feasibility study that resulted in a $1.5 million new farming investment in Mozambique for a chili farm and created additional jobs and employment in this impoverished region. The chili mash from this farm is now being exported to the world-famous Tabasco company, and additional exports are being used in South African food products.

Supporting Public-Private Partnerships: The Hub formed a public-private partnership with Talier Trading, an innovative company that developed an African set of 60 products now appearing in 7,000 grocery stores throughout the US. This development created momentum for these firms to ramp up production to meet volume requirement while establishing the African brands in the US.