Trade Show Opens Doors to US for East African Jeweler

Speeches Shim

Boosting trade opportunities for East Africa and U.S. firms
Nicola Onyango in her booth during the SOURCING@COTERIE show in New York City
Trade Hub
Businesses from two continents connect to create thousands of jobs
“I have a clear vision for a simple aesthetic that melds nomad with chic. Customers in the United States love it.”

December 2017—Nicola Onyango started her artisanal handmade jewelry company, Urban Artefacts, in 2015. She stocks four shops in Nairobi with her designs. Her employees expertly buff every piece to ensure quality and longevity. She’s building a brand of well-made, contemporary jewelry with materials indigenous to East Africa and has now entered the U.S. market.

“I have a clear vision for a simple aesthetic that melds nomad with chic. Customers in the United States love it,” says Onyango.

Like many traders, Onyango wanted to sell her products in the international markets, especially the United States. Months after opening her business, Onyango attended the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) preparedness workshop that was supported by USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub. One of the workshop’s objectives was to build awareness of opportunities for African and U.S. firms to increase trade, expand business partnerships, and invest in East Africa.

The USAID Hub provided support for several East African artisans, including Onyango, to attend the SOURCING@COTERIE show in New York City in September. The annual Coterie show connects the most influential luxury and designer brands to a selection of manufacturers specializing in high-quality production.

It was at the Coterie show that Onyango was discovered by U.S. retailer LOUISE & ELEANOR, a high fashion online shop.

“I have already shipped out my first order to LOUISE & ELEANOR and am now pursuing 10 hot leads, also from Coterie. I now have a sales pipeline in the U.S and a vision for growth. It’s made me more targeted, we are now focused on the next season and we have a clearer understanding of the process,” says Onyango.

The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub is the U.S. Government’s flagship project under the presidential Trade Africa initiative. The Hub boosts trade and investment within Africa and partners with U.S. businesses to attract investment needed to transform the East African private sector into vibrant global trading partners. The Hub’s trade show advisers help East African entrepreneurs navigate the trade show process, curate their booths, and follow up with interested U.S. buyers.

To date, the Hub has facilitated $284 million in exports since its inception in September 2014. The Hub’s activities have also supported the creation of nearly 38,000 jobs. Overall, the AGOA trade agreement has resulted in 300,000 jobs for Africans and 120,000 jobs for Americans.

Onyango’s Urban Artefacts is one of 1,345 firms that the USAID Hub has supported through technical assistance in product design and marketing to help them reach their export goals.


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