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Introducing Business Exchange Tours: Prospering Through Collaboration

Collaboration in any undertaking is to be applauded and encouraged. Business to business collaboration lags as a strategy because it has not been given enough emphasis. There is a realization that embracing collaboration in business strategies is key to an organization’s overall profitability. It is a valuable way to expand knowledge, learn from the success of others, recruit new clients, tell others about your business and to build a sustainable business.

There is an increasing need for business enterprises, especially SMEs, to come together, open up their operations and establish ways they can learn from each other to enable easy navigation of the business and market environment. That way, they will be able to identify and leverage the business opportunities they are afforded. It also helps to build relationships and avenues for partnership and to share relevant information for training, inspiration, and guidance.

In a bid to create opportunities for SMEs to share knowledge with their peers and form business linkages, Invest In Africa (IIA) introduced the ‘Biashara Exchange Tours’ for the SMEs registered on our online platform, Biashara.Now. The monthly tours involve visits to Biashara.Now member firms, with the aim of enhancing Business-to-Business linkages, learning, and business knowledge exchange. This greatly enhances our key pillars of creating access to skills and markets, as it offers firsthand learning experiences to the SMEs, as well as providing opportunities to directly link and acquire business deals.

During these tours, the SMEs get an opportunity to explore the host company intensively to understand its operations and business structure. The SMEs can learn new business ideas while identifying business opportunities they can take advantage of. This is also an opportunity for the visiting SMEs to interact with each other, form relationships, and share business ideas.

Since the launch of this initiative, there have been 2 tours. The inaugural tour, in August, took a select group of SMEs to MECOL, a company on our platform that specializes in manufacturing bespoke office, school, hospital, library, and shelving furniture. This tour included 15 companies, who visited the MECOL’s Nairobi plant.

MECOL shared some insights into its success with the SMEs and how they have managed to stand out in a sector that is greatly infiltrated by importation. This was an eye-opener for the SMEs, most of whom marveled at the realization that they could get good Kenyan-made furniture instead of importing from Asia. Four of the visiting SMEs pledged to procure their furniture from MECOL.

The next tour was a visit to LINEPLAST Group, which is an alliance of three companies, Plast Packaging Industries Limited, Line Art Solutions Limited, and Aromakare, who offer processing and packaging solutions. The tour took place on 10th September 2019 and involved 10 SMEs. The SMEs were able to explore LINEPLAST Group’s manufacturing and processing facility, giving them a feel of their basic and core operations. Through the tour, 3 business linkages were realized for processing and packaging services. The tour also included a mentorship session where, Mary Ngechu, the LINEPLAST Group Managing Director, motivated the SMEs with the story of her journey of establishing and growing LINEPLAST. She encouraged them to consolidate their businesses into areas of strength and pledged to support SMEs of every level.

These business exchange tours support IIA’s core mission of creating access to markets and skills, through the creation of viable business linkages and sharing of relevant information and ideas. The October edition will hosted by Rhombus concrete, who will host firms in the construction and contracting sector from our platform to learn and identify business opportunities.