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New EU-funded Initiative to Promote Trade, Investment for East African Small Businesses

MARKUP II, a €40 million regional initiative funded by the EU, is set to unlock the full potential of agribusinesses within the EAC.

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Dar es Salaam. The European Union (EU) and the East African Community (EAC) on Tuesday formally launched the second phase of the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP II) at a ceremony held in Arusha.

MARKUP II, a €40 million regional initiative funded by the EU, is set to unlock the full potential of agribusinesses within the EAC, according to a statement released Tuesday by the EU Embassy in Dar es Salaam.

Implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat, MARKUP II will strengthen EAC’s small businesses through enhanced regional and international trade in close partnership with the East African Business Council, EAC Partner States, business support organisations, and local institutions.

Building on the successes of MARKUP I, the new phase will focus on EAC priority sectors, including avocado, cocoa, coffee, essential oils, French beans, gum arabic, horticulture, leather, packaging, spices, and tea – with an emphasis on processing, value addition, diversification, investment, and export linkages.

A new development in MARKUP II includes packaging as a standalone and crosscutting value chain, addressing the unique challenges of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the EAC.

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The continued inclusion of women and youth in trade will be crucial to the success of MARKUP II. A regional Steering Committee chaired by the EAC Secretariat, which will include representation from relevant national ministries, will provide overall direction for the programme.

During the launching ceremony, Christine Grau, EU Ambassador and the EAC, said that MARKUP II demonstrates the EU’s commitment to supporting East African companies, fostering sustainable growth, and creating decent job opportunities.

Peter M. Mathuki, Secretary General of the EAC, said the MARKUP programme contributed immensely in value addition through improved coffee processing, coffee cupping certifications, resource efficiency and circular production in the tea and coffee sectors in the region.

“About 700 enterprises, specifically MSMEs in the region, were supported through MARKUP phase I to improve their business operations and export. International transactions worth more than US$10 million were generated, and MSMEs accessed finances worth USD 9 million,” said Dr Mathuki.    

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Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, said she was “thrilled” to build on the great results of phase one with MARKUP II, working closely with the EU and their longstanding partner, the EAC. 

“Our joint efforts to strengthen the region’s agricultural and horticultural sectors will help small businesses become more competitive on the international stage and help deliver on sustainable development priorities for the region and the continent,” she noted.

A notable contribution of MARKUP I include remarkable growth in EAC exports, such as coffee exports to EU markets more than doubling from €488 million in 2018 to €1.1 billion in 2022, and avocado exports growing from €85.5 million to €112.4 million. 

Additionally, 37,819 small and medium enterprises were reached in this first phase and empowered to compete more internationally.

In phase one, more than 115 companies achieved a collective $16 million in sales and exports. 

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MARKUP I also helped draw US$1 million in investment for over 70 small businesses. Over 40 business support organisations shared that their work became more effective through their involvement in the programme.

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