With the help of Export Barbados (BIDC), over USD $20,000 worth of products from six local manufacturers are being shipped to Ghana as the first step in cementing commercial ties with that West African nation and the wider African continent.
Recently, delegates of Export Barbados, Armstrong Manufacturing, Caribbean Sugar Limited, Bajan 1966 Rum, Cockspur Rum, Trowel Plastics Barbados Limited and Roberts Manufacturing, along with Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology, Davidson Ishmael, gathered at Woodland Radicle International Inc., Unit 1A, Building 1, Cane Garden, St. Thomas, to witness the products being loaded on to the 20-foot container, that’s now due to arrive in Ghana very shortly.
Minister Ishmael described the event as “historic“, noting that it signifies the reconnection of the ties between Barbados and the Motherland. He said that Ghanaians would be exposed to some of the high-quality products synonymous with Barbados through the shipment.
“We’re glad that we can now ship this container, which is valued at about 20,000 plus US dollars, which is a combination of about $18,000 in actual purchases from persons in Ghana, and another US $2,500 in samples that we’re hoping would be able to entice more persons in Ghana to be able to purchase more of our products. So it’s a tremendous opportunity to re-establish this link,” he said.
Minister Ishmael added, “We’re starting in Ghana, but we’re hoping that we can then go further afield, all throughout the continent of Africa, because there’s significant demand for our products no matter where we go… So we want to encourage local producers to see Africa as an open playing field for them, an open market for them to be able to see how they can get their products and services onto the continent of Africa”.
The Minister spoke to this as he lauded Export Barbados and Barbados’ High Commission to Ghana, which worked in tandem to make the container consolidation a reality. He is confident that this shipment will be the first of many, as he noted that consumer spending by African consumers and businesses is expected to reach $6.66 trillion by 2030.
“There is still much more ground to cover in Africa. When we think of Africa we have a population of 1.7 billion that is projected by 2030; 1.7 billion people on the continent of Africa alone. That is a huge market. We therefore need to see how we can expand our horizons to embrace that market… We expect that the relationship will be mutually beneficial, where they will be able to gain from our technical expertise and our highly skilled and highly qualified human resources as well“.
Meanwhile, Senior Business Development Officer with Export Barbados Modou Diagne spoke highly of the work of the Barbados High Commission to Ghana, particularly Trade Attaché Phil Phillips, for helping to facilitate the building of relationships with trade partners and securing the first orders from Ghana.
“Export Barbados (BIDC) was then able to organize the shipment and act as the shipper. So this is basically a new role that Export Barbados (BIDC) is taking on, the role of an export platform. We facilitated and consolidated the products from different companies who are not necessarily able to export a whole container on their own. I am certain that this is the first and not the last of many to come. We are going to continue the effort and now that we have put in place the blueprint, it is much easier and we are hoping that in the next one or two months, the next container will go,” Diagne stated.
The representatives of companies involved in the initiative were all elated to be a part of the inaugural shipment and had high praise for Export Barbados, for being instrumental in making the export opportunity a reality.
Cheryl Armstrong, Brand Manager, Armstrong Manufacturing, said they are especially pleased to be shipping Claytons Kola Tonic back to Africa.
“The excitement of this market is that it’s the only market we deal with that actually knows the kola nut, which is the base of Claytons Kola Tonic, better than we do ourselves. So we’re excited to have it go back to whence it came, because we sourced the kola nut from West Africa. So that makes it an extra special market for us… We have a really fabulous product with Claytons Kola Tonic, but it’s always a struggle, as a smaller business, to get into a new country. So we are ever grateful for Export Barbados for backing this effort,” Armstrong stated.
Brand Manager for Cockspur Rum, Shanica Prescod, said she is especially pleased to share Cockspur Rum’s long heritage in Barbados with Ghanaians, through 30 cases of its Fine Rum. She explained that this shipment would give Cockspur the opportunity to grow the brand outside of its traditional markets.
Similar sentiments were shared by Donna Branch, Sales and Marketing Manager, Roberts Manufacturing, who said the company is always looking for opportunities to export and share the versatility of its products with new customers.
“We have a wide range of products, Sunflower Spreads, our Glow Spread Margarine, Mello-Kreem, and VelvoKris Shortening. So all of those products we’re looking to feature and showcase in the Ghana market and we’re hoping to be able to create more dialogue there with interested distributors… We’re already in the region, we sell to over 15 markets, and we are also looking externally. So this is a great opportunity and we’re really excited about this. And we hope that the next thing for us would be to take a trip there and actually meet persons to view, discuss and tour the area, so we have a better understanding of the market,” Branch stated.
Gerard Borely, Director at Caribbean Sugar Limited, noted that while Ghana itself is a large market, it is also a gateway to West Africa, and the African continent.
“We’re very, very keen on it and looking forward to it. Some of our shareholders have had the opportunity to work with the distributor in Ghana, and from their past experiences, they know the leadership there and the distribution capability is second to none. So they are a world class operator, and we believe that through their leadership and distribution channels that this will be the first of many containers that we’ll be sending to Ghana“.
Trowel Plastics Barbados Limited is sending sample products in the shipment. Jerry Burke, Business Development Officer with the company, which is already exporting throughout the Caribbean, and North and South America, said the invitation from Export Barbados (BIDC) came at the “right time”.
“The Ghana market has a population of over 30 million and from our initial research, there’s a lot of robust construction going on in Ghana. So for us, this is a prime opportunity for us to not only create revenue for our company, but also create revenue for Barbados. So this was basically a no brainer for us. The sample we prepared for this shipment contains four of the grades we produce. Two of these grades are primarily used on the exterior; two are generally used on the interior. All of these finishes are really up to the customer’s preference, but these finishes, when applied to any surface, will last the lifetime of that substrate”.
Included in the container that is being shipped to Ghana is Bajan 1966 Rum, Cockspur Rum, Barbados Reserve Brown Sugar, Claytons Kola Tonic, Trowel Plastic, Shortening, Margarine, Soybean Oil and Dog Food manufactured by Roberts Manufacturing and promotional material.