How Kenyan SMEs conquered the world of exports
SEE ALSO :Crocheting myself to a ‘knit’ fortuneWith projections of more than Sh1 million sales already having been made by the over 40 registered members under Ubunifu umbrella, and the more than 50 who turned up for the trade fair, here are experiences of some of the exporters. Kamaldeep Sandhu of ‘Malaika Gifts & Interiors’ In 2015, Kamaldeep Sandhu started Malaika Gifts & Interiors to fulfill a childhood dream, a time when the Export Promotion Council was supporting local manufacturers to link to international exhibitions. “When I look back, I feel I have achieved one of my top dreams. I have been able to bring together the dreams of various artists together as I always envisioned,” Sandhu says. She has managed to take artisans products and sell them locally and abroad. Under Malaika, 25 to 30 artisans are beneficiaries of her platform. She has managed to capitalize on the EPC window of exporting the products to other countries. But for her, being part of the few who have succeeded in taking their products to the outside market, she is happy to be making other people happy. Sandhu advises SMEs with dreams to export products to make the right choices of products for export. She says, different export destinations have different standards that one must meet.
SEE ALSO :How to set up an online shop for freeAnn Messi of Messi Enterprises When Ann Messi, 53, graduated from college with a fashion and design certification in 1983, she had many expectations from the cottage industry which was blooming then. However, the factories began closing down moments later which shut down her dreams. After hustling for years selling mitumba and opening up Messi Enterprises and closing it down in 1997, she revived it in 2015 when EPC came knocking. Messi enterprises deals with products like leather bags, tie & dye, tailoring and also makes hangings and has a workforce of about 5 people. Having travelled the world with EPC, she says this about the export market. “Export products can be rejected due to a simple stitching hitch, therefore, one should watch out for this. One should also watch out for the right raw materials to make quality products and beat the substandard cheap materials,” Messi says.
SEE ALSO :Starting an interior design businessCatherine Ndung’u of Design365 At the age of 48 years, Catherine Ndung’u says, her experience in the sales and marketing profession is what propelled her to the top heights in running her SME. Her strength has been the focus on Kenyan cultural products. “Apart from taking products for trade fairs with the EPC, I have supplied branded products to KTB and a number of local tours and travel agencies in Kenya,” she says. “Export market is not for the faint hearted. It takes resilience and believing in oneself. One should do enough research on culture perception of the target market,” she says. Wambui Mwangi of ‘Wambui Design’ [email protected]