Eight companies get export boost

The Public-Private Steering Committee (PPSC), the upper body of the Ethiopian Competitiveness Facility (ECF) has approved financial support for eight companies last week, Capital learned.
The (PPSC) works to help local companies export their products. Two additional coffee companies are expected to obtain approval from the PPSC, chaired by Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Industry. The meeting involving these companies was  postponed for another time because decision making officials from the Ministry of Industry (MoI) were absent. The companies that got approval on Wednesday January 31 are: Muya Ethiopia, Dire Tannery, Hay Garment, Ethiopia Tannery, Entoto Beth Artisans, Akaki Garment, Zede Engineering and Addis Ababa Tannery. Most of them are textile and garment manufacturers, excluding Zede.
Assegid Assefa, country director of ECF, said that since the second phase of ECF, launched last year, 27 companies, chambers of commerce and business associations have gotten support.
The amount  approved for the companies or associations depends on the project size that the companies or associations submitted. Assegid told Capital that the maximum amount the facility approved is USD 200,000.
The PPSC, which is made up of representatives from the financial sector, private sector, other public institutions and the ministry, will disclose the amount that it approved for the companies after they conclude some suggestions.
He said that almost half of the companies benefiting from the  ECF scheme are similar companies who got the option in the first phase.
The facility that aims to improve productivity and competitiveness in the global market has given support since 2006 when the project launched in Ethiopia with the support of the World Bank. Experts said that the scheme is a good opportunity for companies to tap big markets  in the international market because the program can help companies meet global standards. Very few companies making products for export  and the limitation of industrial companies are major factors that Ethiopian companies have been unable to get the support from the scheme.
ECF is a grant program of Ethiopia aimed at improving the competitiveness of the private sector particularly to develop the export or domestic sales capability of Ethiopian firms by increasing their competitiveness, strengthening market support institutions and market information systems.
The second phase of the ECF is a project operated by MoI and financed by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Private Enterprise Program  Ethiopia (PEPE).  
According to the country director, each firm benefiting from this grant support is expected to contribute to green growth and to increase female employment and empowerment and export oriented businesses.
The ECF has four windows (schemes); export development window, institution development window, chambers of commerce and sectoral association window and the new window introduced to support firms currently not exporting or indirect exporters.
The objective of this first window is to offer grant finance to eligible privately-owned enterprises in order to accelerate the improvement of their competitiveness in international markets.
It is a firm-level support to priority sectors (leather and leather products, textiles and garments, and agro-processing) through a matching grant scheme.
Eligible private sector enterprises will receive reimbursements in the form of cash grants from the fund to cover a substantial proportion of the implementation cost of an integrated export development plan.
The institution development window aims to assist institutions that enhance the export development capacities of private firms that are exporting or preparing to export so as to better to enable them to expand their exports.  These providers could, for example, provide services to prepare firms for ISO 9,000 certification; provide ISO 9,000 audits; undertake market research; rent design equipment; conduct quality testing or  carry out web searches on behalf of exporters in advance of market investigation visits.
DFID has supported GBP four million for the second phase that will end in December 2015.
The first phase that commenced in 2006 and ended in December 2012 has been financed by the World Bank. USD 7.4 million has been dispersed in the first phase. According to the country director, the financiers undertake the monitoring and evaluation to not the effectiveness of the program. The World Bank evaluation for the first phase indicated that the scheme has attained 93 percent.