Seven out of 10 of the world’s fastest-growing national economies are in Africa. But not one African country makes the list of Wisconsin’s top 30 export partners.
A new virtual trade venture to Africa is designed to help Wisconsin companies change that, set for Dec. 7-16. Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. representatives located in 13 African countries will work to find potential business partners for each participant.
A Wisconsin company that has found a successful niche in Africa is Eau Claire-based U-Fuel. U-Fuel designs and manufactures modular fuel stations. U-Fuel ships mini-marts in three 40-foot shipping containers that can be set up in rural areas where there is no reliable electricity.
U-Fuel, which has taken part in WEDC trade ventures in the past, now has stations throughout Africa.
“Africa has a big need for energy and agricultural products,” says Andy Svedarsky, U-Fuel president. “We are looking to expand in Africa. We know there is tremendous opportunity.”
The African Continental Free Trade Area, which went into effect this year, is an agreement between 55 countries that creates a single continental market for goods and services. Taken as one market, it’s the world’s largest in terms of geography and by 2023 is expected to overtake China to become the world’s largest market by population.
Companies that sign up for WEDC’s virtual trade venture receive market research and customized one-on-one meetings with potential customers and partners, needed interpreter services and a briefing that covers the business climate, culture and strategies for success. The subsidized fee for each company to participate is $500.
Because of the time difference, the virtual meetings will take place over two weeks in the mornings in Wisconsin and the afternoons in Africa.