The East African Community (EAC) and European Union (EU) formally launched the second phase of the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP II) in Arusha on Wednesday.
The 40 million euros regional programme funded by the EU is set to unlock the full potential of agribusinesses within the East African bloc housing seven member states.
Speaking at the launching ceremony Peter Mathuki, Secretary General of the EAC said that MARKUP contributed immensely in value addition through improved coffee processing, coffee cupping certifications, resource efficiency and circular production in the tea and coffee sectors in the EAC.
“About 700 enterprises specifically Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) in the region were supported through MARKUP I to improve their business operations and export,” Mr Mathuki said.
International transactions worth more than 10 million dollars were generated and MSMEs accessed finances worth 9.0 million US dollars according to the Secretary General.
Notable contributions of MARKUP I include growth in EAC exports, such as coffee exports to EU markets which more than doubled from 488 million euros in 2018 to 1.1 billion euros last year, and avocado exports growing from 85.5 million euros to 112.4 million euros.
Additionally, some 37,819 small and medium enterprises were reached in this first phase and were empowered to become more competitive in international markets.
The European Union Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Christine Grau, said Mark up II demonstrates the EU’s commitment to supporting East African companies, fostering sustainable growth, and creating decent job opportunities.
“Our joint efforts to strengthen the region’s agricultural and horticultural sectors will help small businesses become more competitive on the international stage and help deliver on sustainable development priorities for the region and the continent,” She said.
In phase one, more than 115 companies achieved a collective 16 million US dollars in sales and exports.
Also, MARKUP I also helped draw in 1.0 million US dollars in investment for over 70 small businesses. Over 40 business support organizations shared that their work became more effective through their involvement in the programme.