By Nana Akua Mensah, Communications Specialist

From modernizing agriculture with climate-smart technologies to revitalizing long-standing family-run fishing and fish processing businesses, and pioneering the country’s first impact investment fund, the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has left an indelible impact on the economy of Cabo Verde. By successfully delivering $2.4 million in co-investment grants provided by USAID/Sahel and USAID/West Africa, the Trade Hub supported five companies in various sectors including pharmaceuticals (Inpharma), agriculture (Agrosoluções), fish processing (Fresk, SUCLA), and financial services (Injaro Investments). These strategic partnerships created 386 jobs, generated $19 million in sales, and attracted $6.5 million in private sector investment.

These achievements, the innovative design of the Trade Hub’s blended finance model, and the unique challenges encountered during project implementation, were highlighted at the Trade Hub’s Learning Event in Cabo Verde on May 14, 2024. Titled “Forging Economic Resilience and Job Growth through Private Sector Advancement,” the event, along with subsequent field visits, from the Trade Hub and USAID teams, provided a platform for in-depth discussions that emphasized the transformative impact of these collaborative efforts.

The Learning Event showcased the achievements of the Trade Hub’s co-investment partners in Cabo Verde through a dynamic display of products, multimedia presentations, and three engaging panel discussions. The three panels were: Boosting Cabo Verde’s Economic Growth Post-COVID-19 through Investment in Agriculture and Fisheries, including representatives from Agrosoluçoes, Fresk D’Gustinh, and the Ministry of Agriculture, and moderated by Margaret McElligott, the Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Cabo Verde; Fostering Youth Employment and Economic Expansion through Trade and Export Development, with representatives from SUCLA, Inpharma, and the Ministry of Fisheries on this panel moderated by Kafui Djonou, the Trade Team Lead for USAID/West Africa; and Unlocking Potential: Strengthening SMEs with Blended Finance and Impact Investments, featuring representatives from Injaro Investments, ProCapital, ProGarante, and International Finance Corporation (IFC), and moderated by Victoria Ryan, a Private Sector Engagement Officer with USAID/Sahel.

Speaking at the event were His Excellency Dr. Olavo Correia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde, and His Excellency U.S. Ambassador to Cabo Verde, Mr. John Daigle. In his remarks, H.E. Mr. Daigle succinctly summarized the spirit of the Learning Event, “Today’s event reaffirms [the U.S. Government’s] commitment to supporting economic growth and prosperity in Cabo Verde and is part of our increasing focus on strategic investment in Africa.”

During the event, officials from the Cabo Verdean Government discussed their policies and programs designed to provide an enabling environment for private sector advancement and shared how partnerships with the U.S. Government are a continuing support of these initiatives.

Extending his appreciation to all attendees in stirring closing remarks, Austan Mogharabi, Director, USAID/Sahel Regional Technical Office, shared, “The Trade Hub Activity has achieved significant milestones in its mission to stimulate economic growth. These include supporting Injaro in launching the country’s first private investment fund and assisting InPharma in resuming its international exports after a four-year hiatus due to COVID-19. These success stories are a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact of financial investment in Cabo Verde.”

Following the Learning Event, the USAID and Trade Hub teams—comprised of Adam Silagyi, Deputy Director, Regional Economic Growth Office, USAID/West Africa; Austan Mogharabi, Director, USAID/Sahel Regional Technical Office; Evelyn Ayivor, Senior Trade and Investment Advisor, USAID/Nigeria; Kafui Djonou, Trade Team Lead, USAID/West Africa; Victoria Ryan, Private Sector Engagement Officer, USAID/Sahel; Charles Polet, Deputy Director, Public-Private Partnerships, Trade Hub;  Frantz Tavarez, Manager, Public-Private Partnerships, Trade Hub; and Nana Akua Mensah, Communications Specialist, Trade Hub—conducted site visits with all five partners and to two investees of Injaro Investments, M&J Tech and SODFAR, on the Santiago and Sao Vicente islands.

The field visits allowed USAID teams to engage deeper with the Trade Hub’s co-investment partners and more fully understand the complexities of the partnerships. Discussions ranged from COVID-19’s effects on these businesses, the Trade Hub’s partnership and technical assistance, potential avenues for further government engagement, and sustainability plans as Trade Hub projects ended.

USAID teams expressed their satisfaction and commendations with the Trade Hub’s partnerships in Cabo Verde, noting the partners’ recurring message of gratitude for the Trade Hub support, both through the co-investment grants and technical assistance.