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  • ISSUE 3/2001


  • Burkina Faso's association for the promotion of women's groups (APGF, Association pour la Promotion des Groupements Féminins) acts as a mixture of non-governmental organization (NGO) and private enterprise.

    Cheetah is the producer organization and subsidiary of a Netherlands-based company operating in Malawi and Zambia. The main product is paprika, supplied in dried form, for the food-ingredient industry (food colour and spice), mainly in Europe. The business has grown in six years from nothing to an annual production of 2 million kg of paprika (2% of the world market), grown by 30,000 contract farmers. By 2002, a further investment of US$ 3 million is expected to double production and increase the number of growers to 50,000.

    Cotriex started operations in January 1998, in the midst of an embargo against Burundi by neighbouring countries, with the objective of exporting agricultural and craft products to help diversify sources of foreign exchange earnings and increasing incomes in rural areas. It works with local peasant organizations in producing and processing coffee, passion fruit and similar products as well as in exporting ethnic products and craftwork. Cotriex concentrates on the logistic and quality control.

    Babylon Garments Ltd. in Dhaka and Men's Fashion A/S in Kolding, Denmark, began their cooperation in 1995. Five years later they established a joint venture, Aboni Textiles, and received a grant of US$ 550,000 from DANIDA's PSD programme. The objective of the joint venture was to establish a T-shirt factory and to manufacture and dye cotton fabric.

    Labil Oliva Bama was awarded a US$ 7,000 prize for the best new enterprise project when he studied at the Marseilles' development institute, a centre specializing in supporting African students in France who want to set up their own business.

    The fish product sector is an important one for LDCs. Export turnover totals more than US$ 1.5 billion (of which US$ 0.9 billion comes from molluscs and crustaceans). Several LDCs are active in this sector: around 18 LDCs export frozen shrimps and prawns.

    "Most important is the compliance with and implementation by the developed market economies, both in letter and in spirit, of the various URA and WTO market access provisions for the LDCs to have an even playing ground to compete internationally."

    Established in 1983 to manufacture and export garments, Fortuna Apparels Ltd. has grown into a major industrial group in Bangladesh, expanding from 140 sewing machines and 250 workers in a rented house to 800 machines and 2,000 workers in its own 100,000 square foot building.

    Frager, a factory dedicated to making vetiver essence, the ingredient of fine perfumes and industrial fragrances, has raised its production in ten years from 20 to 60 tonnes annually, making it the largest producer in the world. With a kilogram of vetiver selling for US$ 69, Frager has a healthy turnover of US$ 4 million. It also employs 27,000 families as contract cultivators of vetiver.

    The Galerie Indigo in Bamako, Mali, appears to be a handicrafts store. In fact, it is the outlet for a network of some 100 craft associations, cooperatives and individuals from Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. Products selected for export include traditional textiles, Tuareg boxes, leather pouches, silver jewellery, knives, pillows, wrought iron, wood utensils and statues, and traditional jewellery from the three countries.

    ID Art Mony, created in 1991, produces household linens and embroidery. Today it employs 60 full-time workers, exporting mainly to France and Switzerland, with the United States and Canada envisaged as new markets.

    How can LDC firms take greater advantage of the rapid growth in world trade? What can be done to make LDC export successes more the rule than the exception?

    "LDCs are being bypassed by the process of globalization...[but] the share of trade in GDP remains relatively high in most LDCs compared with other developing countries."

    It's unlikely that anyone who attended the ITC Business Sector Round Table (Brussels, 16 May) at the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries did not come away encouraged by the inventiveness, ingenuity, perseverance and energy of entrepreneurs in even the poorest of developing countries. We heard from a Nepalese venture capitalist who nurtures and trains new entrepreneurs, a Tanzanian who has virtually created an international market for indigenous gemstones, a Samoan woman who has found a niche in the United States health food market for a local fruit juice, and a Haitian who has become the world's biggest exporter of perfume essence, among many others. As we learned later, several of the entrepreneurs used the occasion to explore business opportunities and network among themselves.

    In many respects, the overall picture of LDCs often changes for the better when we look at the situation more closely.

    Unlike most fishing businesses in Madagascar, Manda does not belong to a multinational enterprise. It is entirely owned by Arthur and Bakoly Razakanavalona. A medium-sized company by Malagasy standards, with 1% of the estimated Madagascan fish market, it nevertheless remains competitive against big companies, handling 180 tonnes of exports with an annual turnover worth some US$600,000.

    There are good prospects for export growth from LDCs in this market. Sales of herbal medicine alone are estimated to have exceeded US$ 12.5 billion in 1994 and US$ 30 billion in 2000, with annual growth rates averaging between 5% and 15%, depending on the region. The herbal supplements market had an even higher annual average growth rate of 25% between 1990 and 1997.

    Meskel Flowers was incorporated in 1992 as a private company, and began exporting cut flowers to European markets in 1993. The company started by selling low-value, outdoor summer flowers, but decided to switch to relatively high-value, indoor cut roses after facing crippling competition from a Kenyan exporter. It currently exports 5.5 million cut roses a year and has 500 employees. Turnover is expected to quadruple to US$ 4 million in the 2000-2001 season, and the company has plans to reach US$ 20 million in five years.

    ITC has released an updated version of COMREG, its software for managing company registers. Compatible with the latest versions of Microsoft Windows, it enables the use of images and complex search and reporting functions on personal computers and through the Internet in English, French and Spanish. COMREG is used in Angola, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

    Nonu Samoa Enterprises was formed by Mr. and Mrs. Siaosi-Tinielu in 1995 to develop and test for export the production from the nonu tree, which is indigenous to Polynesia and has long been known locally to have medicinal properties.

    An eligible project:• offers a real perspective for investments or a sustainable trade relation with a company in a PSOM country; • contains installation of equipment (hardware), transfer of knowledge from the Dutch company to the local company, together with a combination of technical assistance, training, market research, demonstration of project results and institutional reinforcement; • has a positive impact on local employment and jobs in the selected sector; • has a genuine, visible spin-off for Dutch firms; • is tailored to local circumstances and local skill levels and uses proven technology; and • should not be disadvantageous to the poor, deteriorate the position of women or have a negative impact on the environment.

    Under its chairman and managing director, Musa Meah, SAR took the risky decision in the second half of the 1990s of making a high investment in modern machinery and equipment to process ready-packed shrimp products instead of simply supplying block-frozen shrimp from Bangladesh.

    The world market for imported spices and culinary herbs is large, valued at just over US$ 2.3 billion. LDCs such as Madagascar, Comoros and the United Republic of Tanzania earn a substantial part of their foreign exchange from spice exports. The main spices exported by LDC countries are vanilla, cloves, chillies, cardamoms, nutmeg and mace. Since 1995, the LDCs have provided over half of the world's imports of vanilla and over one-fifth of the world's demand for cloves. Other major LDC exports are black pepper, paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, etc.

    The textile sector represents around 25% of LDCs' total exports. Bangladesh alone accounts for more than 75% of textile exports, to the value of US$ 4 billion.

    The Coconut Residence is a five-star luxury hotel at Kololi, The Gambia, with 18 suites, 24-hour room service, conference facilities, two swimming pools and two en-suite pools. For the maximum of 36 guests, there are 150 staff. Gambian-born Farid Bensouda, one of the enterprise's two proprietors, bought the land on which the Coconut stands about 15 years ago with the aim of investing in the tourism sector. But he waited for the right product and only decided on a luxury hotel in 1995. The investment was originally meant for the Caribbean but was attracted to The Gambia partly because of the investment climate and partly because of Mr.Bensouda's vision.

    British-born engineer Nancy Abeid Arahamane realized that although Mauritania had a lot of milk-producing animals, it imported enormous quantities of milk to meet domestic demand. So she started a company to redress the disparity. The Nouakchott-based company, Tiviski, officially Laitière de Mauritanie, began in 1989 by producing products from camel milk. It has since branched out into cow- and goat-milk products. It now has a line of 14 products and produces 13,000 litres of milk a day. Since 1993, sales have tripled.

    World tourism grew by an estimated 7.4% in 2000 - its highest growth in nearly a decade and almost double the increase of 1999. Directly or indirectly, tourism is estimated to provide 245 million jobs and over US$ 5 trillion in economic activity worldwide, of which US$ 2.3 billion in 39 LDCs.

    The ITC and Government of Norway Business Sector Round Table (BSRT) held on 16 May 2001 at the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (14-20 May 2001) put a surprising spotlight on the situation of the world's 49 poorest countries. The BSRT showed that many exceptional entrepreneurs from least developed countries (LDCs) have been able to achieve export success - often with important benefits for their workers and communities. Twenty went to Brussels to tell their LDC success stories to the more than 250 people - business executives and senior trade officials from LDCs along with multilateral agency and donor government representatives - who took part in the round table. We gathered many more of these success stories, which are featured on the BSRT web site (http://www.intracen.org/bsrt/) and in our publication on turning LDC export opportunities into business.

    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2001 LDC exports: the global picture "LDCs are being bypassed by the process of globalization...[but] the share of trade in GDP remains relatively high in most LDCs compared with other developing countries." United Nations Programme of Actio