West Africa Connect – “Meet the buyers” events

Two events to bring numerous buyers and suppliers together—those are the main ingredients of West Africa Connect. Globally Cool has supported UNIDO in coordinating the organisation of two B2B events and the implementation of other related activities in the ECOWAS countries in West Africa. The specific objective of this project is to establish improved regional links between key actors in selected value chains.

The “Meet the buyer” events are branded as West Africa Connect and these events are implemented as part of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP). We organised the first online event for the value chain textiles, garments, and ICT and during the second hybrid event, we put mango, cassava, and ICT in the spotlight. For both events, we were involved in many aspects of this multi-stage project—for example, the creation of the website, setting up the matchmaking tool, identifying suppliers and buyers from West Africa, Europe and North America, and delivering the networking events itself from beginning to end.

Products

Textile, garments, mango, cassava, ICT services

Year

2020 – 2022

Country

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

Type of activity

  • Branding and Promotion
  • Business Matching
  • Capacity Building
  • Digital Marketing
  • Market Intelligence
  • Strategy Development
  • Trade Fairs and Missions

Activities

We have organized, coordinated, and delivered a networking event on November 16 and 17, 2021 and September 20 and 21, 2022. In the run-up to the event, we:

  • Identified key players in the textile, garments, mango, cassava, and ICT value chains.
  • Developed recommendations for the ECOWAS Commission on how to proceed with the first event based on the global pandemic situation.
  • Developed recommendations for the ECOWAS commission on the host country for the second hybrid event. Based on the analysis, Accra in Ghana was chosen as the location for the hybrid event.
  • Developed a matchmaking platform and database with profiles of MSMEs, including registration of buyers and suppliers, and generation of the meetings and webinar agenda.
  • Developed a questionnaire to understand the needs of the potential buyers, identified BSOs and local consultants that can recruit potential buyers in West Africa, and build up the database with validated buyers’ profiles together with local consultants. We also approached around 200 international buyers.
  • Were involved in the selection of suppliers from West Africa. We also were involved in the registration of the suppliers in the database.
  • Developed several self-study guides, manuals, and videos in three languages on how to create a profile in the matchmaking platform, how to strengthen selling points, and how to prepare for a networking event.
  • Established a clear event identity, including a logo, brand manual, promotion materials, and a website in three languages (see westafricaconnect.com)
  • Designed a marketing promotion strategy and promoted the events in three languages via press releases, newsletters, blogs, and various social media channels.
  • Opened a call for proposals to find a qualified BSO in the ECOWAS region that can host future networking events after the finalisation of the project. We selected the Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI) in Burkina Faso for this and involved them in the organisation of the first event to ensure sustainability for future events.

For the events itself, we:

  • Selected relevant topics for the program of both events, coordinated content, and prepared the presentations with speakers.
  • Composed a complete program of webinars and a matchmaking schedule.
  • Prepared scripts for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the opening and closing of webinars.
  • Arranged and coordinated video connections via Zoom.
  • Coordinated translation of webinars in three languages.
  • Assisted MSMEs and buyers during the matchmaking sessions, both online and in Accra during the second event.
  • Prepared evaluation questionnaires.

Results

The results of the first successful online event were:

  • 228 textiles and garments suppliers registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • 73 suppliers from the ICT sector registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • 71 buyers from West Africa and 11 international buyers from Belgium, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the USA registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • A total of 369 registered participants logged into the matchmaking platform during the two days of the event.
  • A total of 364 participants attended to the webinars. There were also accounts shared with multiple viewers like the African Fashion Development and Empowerment Centre (AFDEC) that broadcasted the webinars to a room with 30 female entrepreneurs.
  • A total of 76 business meetings took place, meaning we have achieved the target of at least 50 meetings for the event.

The second, hybrid event was organized in Accra, Ghana and online and the results are presented below:

  • 158 mango and cassava suppliers registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • 16 suppliers from the ICT sector registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • 27 buyers from West Africa, Africa and Europe registered on the matchmaking platform.
  • 25 high-level speakers shared their knowledge.
  • More than 150 business meetings took place, meaning we have achieved the target of at least 50 meetings for the event.

Furthermore, we kept the matchmaking platform open for business meetings for two weeks after both events. Participants could reschedule meetings in case they did not take place during the event.