This information was given by the Uganda Exports Promotions Board (UEPB).
Out of the said 82 companies, 35 went to Kenya, 21 to Rwanda, 17 to Burundi and nine to Tanzania.
According to the board, these companies, in the space of five years, have exported over $15m (sh40b) worth of goods, thus putting them in the league of the traditional big Ugandan firms, which have been exporting to the region for long. Their entry into the regional market is also a boost to Uganda’s regional trade.
The entry into the regional market of these small companies that had previously been unable to is a boost to Uganda’s regional trade.
While conferring certificates to the emerging group of exporters, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, urged them to pay attention to the quality and safety of products as they penetrate previously tough markets such as Kenya.
Kyambadde also stressed the need for innovation as key to the product’s global; competitiveness.
In his words, “We can no longer afford to continue producing products and services using yesterday’s methods and technologies, some of which are not environmentally friendly”.
Speaking about the effects, Robert Moodie, deputy country director of Traidlinks described the results as tremendous. This is corroborated by the fact that in 2014 alone, $4.6m worth of goods were sold.
“It has changed the mindset of Ugandans, they were afraid of venturing out there, especially to Kenya because they did not realise how good their products are, yet buyers wondered whether these products are from Uganda,” noted Moodie.
One of the products is the different alcoholic gins made by Victoria Dry Gin company that is distributing and selling across the region.
Some of the brands like Legitimate whisky are sold in Rwanda, Burundi and northern Tanzania. The other products are the Ugandan made brown and white chocolates branded “Uganda”.
Moodie noted that while this may appear small for now, it has opened up opportunity for growth.
“What is important is not what is ordered the first time, but over time, say 10 years. The business grows from time to time,” said Moodie.
The regional market accounts for 70% of Uganda’s exports. The biggest chunk goes to South Sudan although this has been interrupted by the civil war.