The Confederation of Business and Industrialists Turkiye (TUSKON) held Turkiye-East Africa Trade Bridge 2014. The trade fair that invited eleven countries from East Africa, including Ethiopia brought together big Turkish companies with business owners from Africa.
“What we did for the East African trade fair was bring the companies together in a way that they would be able to make deals. The companies were able to do exactly that. There are some companies that have bought machines for their business here,” said Ahmet Yalman, Public Relations Coordinator.
TUSKON is a non-governmental and non-profit umbrella organization representing 7 business federations, 211 business associations and over 55,000 entrepreneurs from all over Turkey. The organization has hosted several regional and worldwide trade fairs in the last few years alone.
Turkey’s export to East Africa is worth USD 813 million per year, while imports from the region to Turkey amounts to USD 160 million annually, according to 2013 figures. The country also announced it is planning to invest up to USD 400 million in Africa just this year.“When we do these fairs, we choose companies that meet our standards. We look at the companies’ turnover, number of employees and investment capacity. Turkish companies that participate in these trade fairs expect to meet with the best companies. We want to bring respected business people and respected companies together,” Yalman said.
One participant of the Turkiye-East Africa Trade Bridge 2014 trade fair was Simeret Abate, owner of Mulmul Bakery.
“It was really a good opportunity for me; I have learned so much. I got to see many things and met various companies and I have been able to make some deals regarding machineries and raw materials order for my business,” she told Capital.
TUSKON’s upcoming trade fair is the Turkiye-Africa Women Entrepreneurs Trade Bridge to be held starting February 26th to March 1st in Istanbul.
“The participants for this trade fair will only be women; we wanted to do this because there aren’t really other trade shows that are targeting just business women. We also want to encourage women business owners and provide them with different opportunities so that they become stronger,” Yalman said.
He also stated that more than 300 companies from 54 countries in Africa will be participating, while over 500 Turkish companies will take part as well.
“From Ethiopia, eight companies will be participating. The number of participants per country is limited,” Yalman explained.
Besides organizing trade shows and bringing companies together, TUSKON also encourages Turkish companies to come and invest in Ethiopia.
“Our other aim is to bring Turkish investment here. Ethiopia is a textile and agriculture country, the government is also promoting and working on attracting investors to come. That is why there are a lot of textile companies here,” Yalman said.
As the organization has a lot of members, it always encourages them to visit Ethiopia and explore investment opportunities, he said.
“In Turkey, all agricultural land is already occupied, so companies seek other countries and invest. Many textile companies have relocated to Ethiopia and many more are planning to do so because there are many convenient things here such as; cheap labor, cheap electricity and a lot of government support that makes it easer to get land and other things,” Yalman said.
He also confirmed that there are several Turkish companies in the textile sector in the process of investing in manufacturing plants soon.
TUSKON has five representative offices in Brussels, Washington, Moscow Beijing and Ethiopia as well as partner organizations in 140 countries. The Ethiopian office that recently opened, works in partnership with Nejashi Ethio-Turkish International Schools.