Signing of the U.S. – Kenya SME Trade Initiative

On Monday, October 11, 2021, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya witnessed the signing of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) U.S.-Kenya SME Trade Initiative. The initiative recognizes the critical role that SMEs play in U.S. and Kenyan trade, and seeks to expand trade and investment between American and Kenyan Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through partnership, information sharing, training, logistics, financing, and more.

Florie Liser, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, delivered the opening remarks. She detailed the three goals for this initiative.

Firstly, to support greater U.S.-Kenya trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). On the Kenyan side, Kenyan SMEs will be provided background and training on AGOA market opportunities, including sector-specific market information. Secondly, the aim of the initiative is to promote SME-driven Kenya-U.S. trade and investment as envisioned by the U.S. Prosper Africa Build Together campaign and initiative by capitalizing on and creating business relationships between Kenyan and U.S. entrepreneurs. Lastly, the third goal is to develop an online tool that will allow Kenyan and U.S. AME's to connect with potential buyers, suppliers, and partners.

A key component of the initiative is to empower Kenyans SMEs to take full advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and be prepared to effectively leverage any future trade agreement between the U.S. and Kenya. President Kenyatta spoke of importance of SME’s in fostering the resilience of the Kenyan economy.  “That resilience comes from our small and medium enterprises. It comes from what you refer to as the informal sector, what many in Kenya refer to as the Jua Kali,” the President said.

CCA and KEPSA will collaborate to harness needed support from the Kenyan and U.S. governments, including under the U.S. Prosper Africa Build Together campaign. In addition, the initiative will seek to link Kenyan and U.S. SMEs – especially women, youth, minority, and diaspora-owned – to the regional and global value chains of multinational companies that are members of CCA and KEPSA.

KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki stressed the importance of connecting Kenyan SME’s with stores in the US and helping them access the market. “Many of the SMEs do not know how to access AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act)-the training, the logistics, the financing and that is what we want to do.”

The launch event included a select group of U.S. and Kenyan SMEs and multinationals active in Kenya-U.S. trade and investment, including Flutterwave, Kentegra, Pfizer, Talanton Impact Fund, Visa Foundation, BizSoultions 360, and Swahili Village, among others.

 CCA and KEPSA were also honored to have a high-level Kenyan delegation participate in the initiative’s launch event, including President Kenyatta’s Senior Economic Advisor, Cabinet Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Industrialization and Trade, and Ambassadors to the United States and the United Nations.

In her closing remarks, President and CEO Liser expressed CCA’s continued mandate to support the economic development of African nations by continuing to provide a platform for discussions on U.S.- Africa collaboration for economic growth. She thanked KEPSA for their partnership and stressed the importance of this initiative to scale up U.S.-Kenya trade, investment, and business through the power of SMEs