PUBLISHED ON February 24th, 2015

Traidlinks set to link TZ firms to East African markets

HISTORICAL reasons explain why the Kenyan industrial base is much more advanced in comparative terms to other East African countries Tanzania included. However, it is significant to note that not all that was Azimio la Arusha was negative.

Today, Tanzania has plenty of homegrown cottage industries owned by ordinary Tanzanians. Mr. Mazzari Taj Mohammed is one such Tanzanians who produces honey packaged as Asali One.

The product, like many Tanzanian made products are struggling to capture the East African market. There are several reasons why Tanzanian exports, despite being the leading export partner to Kenya do not earn the exports as much money as they should.

Chief among them is that Tanzania exports raw unfinished goodsmaize, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and onions among others. Tanzania even exports cashew nuts in its unprocessed form to Kenya. The politicians will scream blue murder that the Kenyans are engaging in economic sabotage.

In reality there is no such government policy by the Kenya Government just like the Tanzanian government has no policy to exploit its own farmers due to their vulnerability. What individuals entrepreneurs like Mzee Mazzari of Asali One lack most of all, is not hunger for markets but market awareness.

This past week, Traidlinks a development organisation funded by the Republic of Ireland, and Trademark East Africa brought together some 15 or so local producers who are ready for the export market to give them skills necessary to capture the existing glut which is currently filled by brands from all over the world.

If the nodding going on in the session was anything to go by, the entrepreneurs who are largely in food and agro-processing know for a fact that for Tanzanian processed foods and products to access the rest of East Africa, quality of the products must be a number one agenda.

The Kenyan market, as we observe, has been by accident of history, home to multinationals like Unilever for more than half a decade.

Those multi-nationals have generated products to standards that have left the market used to certain standards. It is therefore a challenge to penetrate that market unless a brand has taken trouble to give the five Ps of product sales- product, packaging, preparation, planning and positioning.

In planning to get a stake out of the multi-billion shillings that Kenya uses to buy finished goods from elsewhere in the world (exemplified by milk, honey, sugar, butter and so on from South Africa or Europe that can be seen on supermarket shelves in Kenya), Tanzanian firms must strategically plan and work backwards from the market in order to capture that and other East African markets.

The business people themselves critique their own products and see the short-comings. Most Tanzanian products are produced, packaged and branded for the home market. One has only to look at these brands advertisements on Television or hear them on radio. The sales pitch nearly always Tanzania-centric.

It does not extol the virtues of the product or the brand. It more often than not appeals to the patriotic loyalty of Tanzanians. This can work and has worked in the local market but when it comes to the regional markets, business people must recognise no one will buy Azam Juice because it is Tanzanian.

They would rather by Azam Juice because it is well-packaged, good quality and well-presented on the shelf. Those qualities of good packaging, quality and presentation do not just happen according to Mr Robert Moody of Traidlinks East Africa based in Kampala, Uganda.

These marks of quality are as a consequence of sustained planning and deliberate efforts made by business people to ensure their products stand out from the rest. In the last 4 years, Traidlinks has made it possible for over 100 companies to complete successful export sales mission in between the five East African countries. This year once again traders like Taj Mazzari have the opportunity to showcase their products to the Kenyan market in May this year.

What Traidlinks does, is to research possible buyers in Kenya and interest them with samples so that when the Tanzanian business people arrive in Nairobi, they are linked directly to prospects and can do real order and sales prospects thus avoid time wasted in other expos where non buyers exhaust traders with questions not purchase enquiries.

Mr Moody emphasizes that capturing a slice of the export market in Kenya could mean millions of dollars to Tanzanian Small and Medium industry manufacturers that is literally waiting to be captured but notes that this does not begin with the mission.

“It starts with the business people changing the mindset and planning their businesses like a business. Money in the business is not personal money and should never be used for unplanned purposes,” he says.

These are the most common pitfalls of businesses in the East African region. People in business assume that buyers will buy because one is selling. The packaging is never uniform nor does the quality remain standard.

There is almost no-thought to the marketing pitch remaining limited to the need to sell. Money belongs to the owner thus they sell and put the money in the pocket.

With no known financial records, how can a business attract any investment let alone obtain credit which in itself is critical towards achieving business goals. If you add value to your products Google Traidlinks and be part of the trade mission. You might just get that captive market you have been wondering how to reach.

Source: Daily News

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.