"Many countries, like China, are getting ahead by mechanizing their production. Should we not mechanize the production of our handicrafts?" MP for the Disabled in Uganda
"There are many women in Karamoja region making beautiful crafts. How we can export their products?"
Hon. Ms. Auru Anne, MP Moyo District
These are just a few of the questions raised by attendees at the Origin Uganda event, sponsored by USAID's COMPETE project. The event itself was a big success - held at the beautiful Emin Pasha Hotel in Kampala, it was attended by Susan Muhwezi, the Government of Uganda's (GoU) Special Assistant to the President on African Growth and Opportunities Act; Major General Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry; and several MPs from Uganda's more vulnerable districts. Newspapers and NTV sent journalists, and USADF, the Chamber of Commerce, and various business development organizations showed up as well - all curious to see the beautiful crafts being produced in Uganda.
Together with NAWOU, Uganda Crafts, Wrap Up Africa, Sseko Designs, and Wawoto Kacel, One Mango Tree participated in the event to raise awareness about the enormous growth potential in Uganda's craft sector.
Enthusiasm is definitely there - particularly on behalf of the AGOA office, which is placing its focus in 2010 on growing craft export in the country. One Mango Tree will advise the office on issues from a grassroots perspective, helping to create a streamlined process for groups to take advantage of AGOA's duty-free benefits. This includes work on applying for Category 9 exception - a section of AGOA which permits products made from handmade fabrics to qualify was duty-free.
Watch this space for updates as we work together with GoU in 2010.