Rwanda: Made-in-Rwanda Products Go Global

Dieudonne Twahirwa, 30, who runs Gashora Farm, examines chili plants at his farm in Bugesera District in eastern Rwanda on August 23, 2018.
19 November 2019

At the first occasion to showcase his products in China last year, a young entrepreneur, Dieudonne Twahirwa, signed an agreement with a Chinese company called GK International Enterprises.

The agreement was to reportedly supply 50,000 tonnes of dry Chili worth $100 million every year.

The move was the outcome of the first China International Import Expo held in Shanghai in November last year as part of the People's Republic of China's measures to open doors for investors from across the world to showcase their products on Chinese market.

Through his company, Gashora Farms, the young agribusiness dealer was among the entrepreneurs that represented Rwanda during that international fair which attracted 172 countries.

During the fair, he also secured a deal to export 1,500 drums (barrels) equivalent to 37,500 litres of chili oil for $ 2 million.

Twahirwa (2nd right) with his employees at the factory in Bugesera District. Under the agreement his firm is set to annually export Chili worth up to USD100 million. Courtesy.

According to Twahirwa, he had never imagined that his products could attract enormous interest from the Chinese market, given that his supply was limited to Europe and India.

Since November this year, he has gained two more firms that are interested in Chili.

He disclosed the information during the second China International Import Expo that concluded over the weekend in Shanghai. The expos run from November 5-10.

Seven companies represented Rwanda, largely showcasing agriculture products such as chili, tea, coffee and handicrafts.

The platform themed; "New Era, shared Future," gave them access to 26 international organisations, potentially exposing their products to firms from 150 countries that participated in the expo.

The Rwandan entrepreneurs now say that the approval rating for their products in the global market has improved significantly.

"I have realised that our products are not only needed in local or regional communities but they are also in high demand on international markets. Our products have space in different areas of the world. What we should focus on is to work hard towards improving quality and quantity," said Twahirwa.

"Since I started showcasing my products in China, the market has expanded. Thus, we have set new measures to meet the demand. We have enough land and we work together with other farmers. We are increasing a number of farmers to multiply our produce."

Another exhibitor representing Damarara, which produces coffee and tea, said that their products are now popular on the global market.

"The most interesting thing is how our products caught the attention of the Chinese consumer. The trade fairs served as platforms to present what we do, which facilitated long-term partnerships with new clients," he noted, adding; "We are getting experience; we search for market as well as creating networks."

"We have been receiving a big number of enquiries about our coffee."

For him, the packaging for Made in Rwanda products needs to be improved.

"Chinese language should appear on the packages to enable clients discover our products easily because most of our clients we had received would speak Chinese and they could not read what was written on the packages of our products."

For Berah Nyirahuku, Marketing and Sales Manager at Rwanda Mountain Tea Ltd, there is a need to expand market for Rwandan products.

"We have good quality tea with international standards. This is a big market and we are capable to supply any quantity if we create networks," Nyirahuku added.

Rwanda and China trade cooperation has enabled investors from both sides to expand the market for their products.

For instance, in November four Chinese firms participated in an exhibition event dubbed, "China brand Show" at Kigali Convention center.

The event coincided with second China International Import Expo in Shanghai where Rwandan companies too took part in to showcase Made in Rwanda products.

Diane Sayinzoga, the Head of Special Economic Zone and Export Department at Rwanda Development Board, appreciated the success of Rwandan products on international market, advising Rwandan entrepreneurs to explore all opportunities available for them.

"There is a progress in promoting Made in Rwanda products. In a bid to enhance e-Commerce, Rwandan products are available on Alibaba platform. Rwandan coffee is special and it is widely appreciated for instance MacDonald China has expressed their interest to use Rwandan coffee in their business. This shows how our products are special. Producers should strive to participate in international fair to expand the market for the products," Sayinzoga said.

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