• March 18, 2015

April 29, 2014–Nineteen small and medium size Egyptian firms have sharpened their abilitynto compete in global export markets through a collaborative program that started a year ago. Their success has helped to create jobs and bolster the Egyptian economy-and provides examples for other small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The 6 auto parts and 13 home textile firms participated in more than 20 capacity building and readiness sessions over 10 months, and exhibited in at least one major trade show in China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, or the U.K.

Preparing for Heimtextil Tradeshow. Soha, the owner of Lilly Linens (left), Basma Kandil, export promotion consultant with the Trade Facilitation Program, and a company employee unpack wares at the Heimtextil show and prepare them for display.

The firms received assistance through the Export Development Pilot Program,introduced in March 2013 as part of USAID’s Trade Facilitation Project. Nathan Associates Inc. has been managing the project since it began in 2011.

“The products made in Egypt that compete successfully in overseas markets are a source of jobs and income that can reduce poverty and raise standards of living in Egypt,” said Mary Ott, mission director for USAID/Egypt, who spoke April 29 in Cairo at a ceremony for the 19 firms.

Foreign and local experts trained the companies on all aspects of exporting. Seven of the companies reported signing sales contracts worth US$1.4 million at the trade shows. Those seven and other companies projected US$5.0 million in sales based on clients met and requests for further information and samples.

The trade shows included Index Jeddah in November 2013. Fourteen Egyptian companies, including seven SMEs, participated in the Saudi Arabian event. That level of turnout by fellow Egyptians was unprecedented, said Karim Kozman of the Kozman Group, an upholstery and curtains maker. “The Egyptian pavilion was very prominent,” he said.

Lindsey Wellons, deputy chief of party of the Trade Facilitation Project, said: “The longer term benefits for Egypt will grow out of the experience of SMEs learning to work together and side-by-side with each other and with larger firms to promote Egyptian goods. The larger results will come from other SMEs imitating the example of those in the pilot project.”

The first phase of the pilot program ended in April. The Trade Facilitation Project completes its third and final year in May. A one-year extension could continue the program and broaden its scope to include SMEs from other sectors.

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