Creating Perspectives: East African SMEs go Hannover Fair

Latest technological innovation and excellent networking opportunities: that’s what the Hannover fair, the biggest industrial fair worldwide, stands for. As that is a great opportunity which also East African companies should not miss, the project “Creating Perspectives: Business for Development” enabled some of its SMEs to take part in this eye-opening event. On 31st March, the delegation, comprising EABC Executive Director Peter Mathuki, EAC Principal Economist and Project Coordinator Charles Omusana and seven motivated SMEs from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, started their journey to the small German town Hannover.

During the first two days, the participants had the chance to explore the vast exhibition grounds and to get inspired. One of the major takeaways is definitely that East Africa as a region should not miss the chance to market itself more by being present with a stall at international trade fairs. The highlight of the fair was the panel discussion on SDGs on 2nd April organized by BDI and GIZ on behalf of BMZ, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Peter Mathuki could not miss on the panel, of course, and elaborated the EACs potential as a region of investment pushing for a better business environment. Mary Ngechu, CEO of the Kenyan SME Plast Packaging, was on the other hand representing the company view. She elaborated on how she is fostering youth employment through training and hiring young graduates.

Following the exciting days at the Hannover Fair, the participants of the delegation trip spread all over Germany for individual matching and networking visits. Peter Mathuki and Charles Omusana both headed to Berlin where they met representatives from BDI, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the Foreign Office. The East African SMEs were meeting potential matching and coaching partners. For example, Olivier Vyuzura, CEO of the Burundian company Cerealis and member of the East African Grain Council, visited Beiselen's site, a leading German provider of grain storage facilities, in Magdeburg harbor.