Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania

SMEs under EU funded programme MARKUP participated in the Virtual B2B event at the United Fresh Trade Fair 2020

07/07/2020 - 13:55
News stories

As one of its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on limiting face to face business interactions the EU – East African Community (EAC) Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) brought SMEs to the first virtual trade United Fresh LIVE!


As one of its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on limiting face to face business interactions between international buyers and sellers the European Union (EU) – East African Community (EAC) Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) brought around twenty avocado and fresh produce exporters and institutions to the first virtual trade for fresh produce, United Fresh LIVE! from 15 to 19 June 2020. The MARKUP beneficiaries were from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

United Fresh LIVE! counted more than 12,500 registrations and 7,500 online participants at all times. The virtual business-to-business exhibition will remain open until 1st September 2020.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) supported the EU-EAC MARKUP companies to participate for the first time in the online the trade fair, an innovative format which featured virtual booths, interactive chats and digital marketing material. Prior to the fair, MARKUP collaborated with ITC's SheTrades Initiative in the delivery of a webinar that offered to the companies tips on how to talk to buyers and potential partners using the online functions of the trade fair.

The MARKUP booth presented fresh produce from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania including avocados and avocado products, beans and peas, Caribbean chillies, mangos, passion fruit, green, red, and yellow bell peppers, Ravaya aubergines, ginger and herbs.

Companies well versed on social media were the most successful in getting in touch with potential buyers and other sector representatives. The Rwandan exporter Effective M&N Ltd reported that they successfully met new European buyers from France through the virtual trade fair. Mr. James Weru, from Fair Trade Enterprises Ltd, Kenya, who had the opportunity to meet with at least five new potential buyers from Ukraine and the United States, said: “It was great participating in an online trade fair. This was a game changer, it showed how trade fairs can happen without travelling”.

According to Ms. Frederine Derlot, ITC Programme Officer on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, “There is already a visible change in the business behaviour of some companies, which have improved their digital presence. This is now opening opportunities for them to reach a broader audience”.

Most MARKUP participants recognised that online activities and virtual business meetings will be the “new normal” even after the pandemic. They also expressed their desire to participate in other virtual trade fairs in the future in order to maximize their business opportunities in Europe and across the world.


The Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) is a regional development initiative conceived by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in partnership with the European Union (EU) and implemented by various agencies, including the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The MARKUP aims to increase exports of agribusiness and horticultural products and promote regional integration and access to the European market by addressing specific challenges that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Trade and Investment Support Institutions (TISIs) and policy-makers face in accessing regional and EU export markets.