Bridging the Gap

Feed the Future West Africa Trade and Investment Hub Activity

Facilitating Private Sector Investment via USAID’s West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (2019-2024). Connexus manages the Public Private Partnership (PPP) component of the WATIH project, as part of Creative Associates’ consortium. Based in Dakar, Connexus’s PPP Director is identifying and catalyzing private sector investment in the region by working with leading buyers, processors, and producers to demonstrate the commercial viability of West African farmers and firms. By linking West African farmers and firms to regional processors and international buyers, WATIH is reducing non-tariff trade barriers by building the capability of local suppliers to meet international standards, expand climate smart production, and achieve greater incomes, especially related to agricultural value chain opportunities, including in horticulture, cashew, cocoa, shea, livestock, and cereals. In addition, WATIH is identifying other high potential export opportunities as well as light manufacturing (such as apparel) and supporting services (packing and labeling, logistics, etc.). Through these interventions, Connexus is supporting the creation of thousands of new direct jobs from targeted staple foods and value-added sectors.

By the end of Year 4, Connexus has helped the WATIH project engage in 92 viable co-investment projects with local partners totaling more than $84.2M in co-investment grants for USAID consideration, including identifying firms that needed urgent assistance to shore up their businesses due to losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trade Hub co-investments are underway in 20 value chains in 16 countries across West Africa, including in apparel, cashew, palm oil, soy, grains, fruits and vegetables, cacao, garment manufacturing, and agro-processing, among others.

Approved grants for co-investment have engaged almost 500,000 private sector participants to date, including more than 200,000 women and youth. WATIH grants have leveraged more than $321M in agricultural and non-agricultural financing in the last year alone and $374.4M in private sector co-investments over the life of the activity grant portfolio. To date, these activities have generated more than $511M in sales of agriculture, manufactured goods, energy, and services—including $176M in exports and $95M to exports to the USA— from the partner firms and have led to the creation of 65,900 sustainable jobs, including 34,000 jobs for women.

Specific innovations include:

  • Establishing 136 new buyer-seller relationships between suppliers in West Africa and buyers abroad.
  • Helping 19 private West African agri-businesses obtain certification with international quality control institutions to meet minimum product standards for export to the USA and Europe.
  • Pioneering an array of innovations to improve international trade flows and manage risk, including digital platforms, transaction advisory services, catalytic co-investments, first-loss provisions for new funds, and use of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to manage liability and risk for large joint ventures.
  • Working with Liberian palm oil producer J-Palm to implement a digital block chain-based tracking system to manage the end-to-end traceability of supply from 2,500 smallholder farmers and to track carbon sequestered within various production zones. Once the module is finalized, it will provide a basis to reward farmers financially for responsibly managing the forest and maintaining the local ecosystems.
  • Working with Ivorian firm ANKA to create an “Etsy” type platform to allow African entrepreneurs and SMEs to easily market products, get paid, and ship products around the world. In the past quarter, the collaboration with WATIH allowed ANKA to support approximately 1,000 women micro-entrepreneurs to access its online market technology. ANKA generated $3M in exports from 419 women-majority micro-entrepreneurs in West Africa during the past year.

Client: Creative Associates; 2019-2024

“People set a company’s culture. Not the other way around. The Connexus culture, and the inestimable value that it brings to us at the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub comes through the relentless efforts and commitment of Lotfi Kourdali, subcontracted to us by Connexus to serve as our PPP director. He brings an unfailing level of professional excellence to us, for which Connexus can feel justifiably proud.” – Michael Clements, Chief of Party, West Africa Trade and Investment Hub