Cultivating export opportunities in the Arab Region: Agrifood SMEs ready to thrive

Implemented in the context of the UNIDO-SIDA project “Enhancing accreditation value chain in the Arab Region”, the “Trade and Quality” (TRAQ) initiative paved the way for 166 promising SMEs from 6 Arab countries[1] to embark on an exciting journey toward competitiveness, quality and export readiness. In close collaboration with local public and private partners, the TRAQ initiative helped equip these companies, including 34% of women participants, with the requisite knowledge, skills and tools enabling them to explore untapped markets confidently by scaling up their operations and increasing their readiness to export. 

The TRAQ initiative was meticulously designed based on a thorough assessment of SMEs needs in each country and selected food sub-sectors. Through a series of interactive workshops and personalized coaching sessions conducted between 2023 until early 2024, SMEs gained a better understanding of export requirements, procedures and regulations as well as food safety, quality and certifications, ultimately boosting their readiness to venture into regional and international markets.  

“After participating in the workshops delivered by UNIDO and the Lebanon Export Academy, we can now confidently state that we have the mindset and expertise to establish an export department. We have covered all the essential aspects, from cost analysis to market research and logistics. We have gained a profound understanding of the export-specific terminology” affirmed Mohammad Zeidan, co-founder and managing director of Zeidan and Co, a producer of high-quality Lebanese roasted nuts.

The journey of empowerment, collaboration and growth culminated in B2B matchmaking activities in each of the 6 countries, providing beneficiaries with the opportunity to engage in one-on-one discussions with buyers, thus facilitating direct business and collaboration insights. 36 SMEs also had the opportunity to meet and build partnerships with regional and international agro-food value chain actors during Food Africa International Exhibition that took place in Cairo in December 2023.

“Exhibiting at Food Africa 2023 was a truly enriching experience. It has greatly enhanced our capabilities to take advantage of such events and boost our development. As a result of many interactions with potential buyers during the event, we successfully shipped our products to Palestine, forming the basis of a fruitful partnership. We are also in the final stages of negotiation with a potential client in Oman, and we are optimistic about reaching an export agreement with them” said Ahmad Alnajjar, Business Development Manager at Canary Confectionary Factory, a producer of wafer biscuits in Jordan.

As Arab agrifood producers and manufacturers step into a new era, the lasting impact of their commitment and endeavors is eagerly anticipated, contributing to the prosperity and reputation of Arab countries in the global marketplace.


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[1] Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia