Export Launchpad Uganda Opens Doors for Women-led SMEs to Global Markets


The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), TFO Canada, and the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) have launched the Export Launchpad Uganda program to provide women-led SMEs with the necessary tools and knowledge to expand their businesses in international markets. The program aims to address the main constraints faced by women exporters, such as their lack of knowledge, skills, resources, and network to access global trade.

The Export Launchpad Uganda is a joint initiative of ITFC, Trade Development Fund, and Global Affairs Canada through its Women in Trade for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth (WITISG) project, implemented by TFO Canada in collaboration with UEPB, the Trade Support Institution of the recipient country. The program has two components: training-of-trainers and SME preparation and strengthening.

The first component, training-of-trainers, aims to establish an exporter training platform implemented through a lead Trade Support Institution (TSI) and other TSIs in the selected countries. The second component focuses on preparing and strengthening the capabilities of SMEs (112 in total) and their products and equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge that could contribute to introducing in an efficient and effective way their products into the Canadian and international markets in the agrifood sector, to significantly position them and be also prepared to take advantage of new export opportunities that could be generated.

During a joint UEPB-TFO Canada exploratory mission in Kampala, Uganda, several 1-on-1 meetings were held with key public and private sector stakeholders to identify the priority sectors, understand the trade promotion services gaps/needs of SMEs, particularly women-owned/led ones, and the capacity building needs of local TSIs to service the SMEs’ needs. The project will benefit 50 trainers across the country, and the training is planned to be offered to SMEs in Uganda from the agrifood value chains and subsectors. A training manual has been launched as the output of this initiative. The manual will be validated by different institutions in the country, becoming a resource for the whole country.

Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC CEO Stated “Within ITFC’s mandate to prioritize SMEs as the backbone of economic development, the Ugandan MSMEs play a vital role in the nation’s private sector and the contribution to the overall GDP. Strengthening these businesses, especially post-COVID-19 revival, is vital for the Ugandan economy’s resilience. In collaboration with our partners at GAC, TFO Canada, and UEPB, we recognize that digital tools and solutions offer MSMEs the opportunity to enhance efficiency, promote growth, and ultimately flourish in the global market. As such, Export Launchpad Uganda, aligned with ITFC’s mission, serves as a crucial initiative for economic recovery and safeguarding Ugandan livelihoods.”

“We are grateful to the ITFC for the leadership they have demonstrated in supporting its member countries to seek international markets. Through this program, TFO Canada is bringing internationally experienced sector and subject matter experts, to design and deliver unique export-readiness training. Given the challenges we all face post COVID-19, our collaboration with the partners of the Export Launchpad – Uganda project is impressive and will result in Ugandan SMEs increasing and diversifying their exports to the world, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable economic growth of the country.”, commented Steve Tipman, Executive Director of TFO Canada.