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The West Africa Trade and Investment Hub


  • West Africa lags behind much of the world economically
  • Abt targeted lead firms, market and financing opportunities
  • Millions in sales, exports and investments — plus new jobs
The Challenge

West Africa is one of the world’s poorest regions. Business and trade there face chronic obstacles such as spotty product quality, inaccessible loans, bureaucratic blockages, and donor dependency. The region’s leading midsized firms—those with the biggest potential impact on jobs and incomes—are largely isolated from market opportunities and need investment to grow. National and regional policies often deter, rather than support, business growth.

quote west africa trade hub

With Trade Hub, we were able to work with more clients simultaneously as opposed to taking one risk at a time. Resources like this simply do not exist elsewhere.
The Approach

The Abt-led West Africa Trade and Investment Hub bridged skills and investment gaps for West African firms in agriculture and apparel that met key quality requirements. The project trained more than 11,000 West Africans to improve product quality, financial management, and marketing approaches while convincing buyers and financial lenders to be first movers in emerging West African industries. The Trade Hub also successfully advocated to clear a longstanding bureaucratic obstacle in seven countries and constructed foundational documents for new regional trade policies.

The Results

Over four years, the Trade Hub became a beacon for economic development in West Africa, leveraging market and financing opportunities in 15-plus countries to prepare producers to compete locally and globally.

The project facilitated $100 million of investment in agriculture and apparel, $136 million in exports, $174 million in sales—and generated more than 20,000 new jobs.

Joint ventures and new plants are taking shape in multiple countries, and modern practices are gradually professionalizing even the most traditional sectors. As USAID/West Africa’s go-to for regional economic development, the Trade Hub took a 360-degree view, addressing longstanding obstacles and expanding national knowledge bases to enable freer, faster trade across borders and beyond.