Wondered why Africa Trade is low? TOYIN UMESIRI explains.
Let me first share a few of the responsibilities I had in my “previous life” at Walmart. I share them because many still may not know why I built Nazaru LLC. and what drives this globally relevant work. At one point I was responsible for Apparel Merchandising Strategy Execution supporting the Chief Merchant and Sr. Vice President for Walmart Stores. In that role I coordinated cross-functional teams from all divisions needed to shift or adjust Apparel staging, distribution and sales at the 4,000+ stores in the USA. From logistics to Supply Chain to Marketing, Store Ops, Merchants/Buyers et cetera. I managed the execution of such portfolio projects for key decisions on brand retirement to New brand introduction from Corporate to the Stores. That role gave me insights on what it actually takes to move products at scale through the supply chain of the world’s largest retailer.
Another important project I led was Global Sourcing. I was responsible for implementing the Source to Contract (S2C) global project where my team designed the Supplier Onboarding, Qualification and
Contract processes coordinating with all global Vendor Management Offices (VMO) from UK to China to Canada and the US. These processes determined how and why Walmart buys what it buys from various parts of the world and integration and streamlined of buying systems for Goods not For Resale (GNFR) processes and the robust infrastructure that supported those buying decisions…
So what does all this have to do with Africa Trade?
In the Walmart world where I come from I had a front row seat on how global trade worked and most importantly it became evident to me that Africa was not playing a major role in that world – It felt like Africa did not exist within the consciousness of global buying decisions; such decisions that determined global wealth distribution – the likes of which brought China to the frontlines of trade in general!
Over the years I have hosted world leaders to advance these discussions and shed more light on how to close such gaps leveraging my platform the Trade with Africa Business Summit which is now in its 4th year. Here are 5 reasons why this problem persists still today:
Lack of Insight on Africa Trade: The world is yet to understand what Africa has to offer and sadly Africa’s business and political leaders are not doing enough to sensitize and educate them. If global buyers do not know what you have they will not come to your doorstep – those who benefit from global trade find their way to such buyers and not the other way round.
Lack of Patience: At Nazaru we support those who seek to develop effective Market Entry strategies. Many people think that this is an overnight task- no it is not. For example Apparel buying decisions are locked in at least 9 months before the first shipments go out. The 9 months is used to streamline the supply chain to source all materials etc. needed to executive the manufacturing of millions of products. It is a painstaking process that often take months even years to execute an effective strategy. For those still thinking it is overnight they are missing the full picture.
Foreign Aid Mentality: In my Trade and Investment Masterclass I teach how Africa has to cross over from dependency on Aid to pursuing Trade. Many African governments would not do what they should do because they are expecting Aid and Development organization to show up and do the work. Permit me to declare this: Development organization did not make China what it is today! Development organization cannot take credit for what China has accomplished in the trade world. So I say to Africa’s leaders stop depending on Aid organization – They represent a crutch that would never support Africa in running the race to capturing current and future trade opportunities at scale.
Investing in Knowledge Acquisition: The knowledge that would transform African trade is not free! Because of the Aid mindset – many think that someone out there would bring them the knowledge needed to transform the landscape. The reality remains that Africa must now become a student of trade to advance to the levels they want. China 20-40 years ago took this on – they travelled the world to glean from the best in class. They brought that knowledge back home and began implementing such. Transformative knowledge has to be invested in.
Process Minded: The global market has its standards and requirements and all those that seek to engage has to follow such. That landscape would not change for Africa. When policies such as AGOA seek to reduce Tariff barrier for Africa – Non-Tariff barriers still exist that Africa must overcome. That is what we help our clients achieve at Nazaru.
I do have some great news to share; the launch of my beauty line!
As I continue to support those who seek our services at Nazaru LLC., I also am building my own brands and product lines. I am doing the exact work that I tell people needs to be done. It takes time, it takes persistence, rigor and great understanding of the global supply chain landscape. Under the OMOOBA® BEAUTY & FASHION LINES I hope to bring to the world a touch of Africa!
Can Nazaru be of help to you and your global business? Complete our intake form here and my team would be in touch: https://www.nazaru.com/can-we-help-you
- Umesiri, the Founder of the Trade with Africa® Network and the CEO of Nazaru llc, could be reached at: email@example.com