Djibouti, U.S. Strengthen Partnership through ‘Vendor Day’
More than 200 vendors, contractors and business owners from across Djibouti who specialize in services and trades such as construction, logistics and supply learned the process to develop a business partnership with the U.S. government during Djibouti Vendor Day at the Sheraton Hotel in Djibouti, Djibouti, May 21.
“This is an opportunity to strengthen our partnership,” Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commander, said during his opening remarks. “This is an opportunity to make the local economy and Djiboutian environment better for all.”
Overall, Vendor Day participants had an opportunity to learn about the U.S. government bidding process, collect information and ask questions.
“Since CJTF-HOA stood up in 2002, it has offered Djibouti Vendor Day about every two years,” U.S. Army Lieutenant Col. Eugene Poindexter, CJTF-HOA’s Djibouti contracting officer and Vendor Day event coordinator, said. “Each event has brought about an increase in attendance, and this year was certainly no different. In fact, this year’s attendance was more than double the previous Vendor Day in Djibouti.”
In addition to demonstrating the U.S. Government’s commitment to Djibouti’s economic capacity, the event also showed the close interagency collaboration between CJTF-HOA and the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, which also planned Djibouti Vendor Day.
“This is very encouraging in that one important way we can work together to prevent extremists from gaining a foothold here is to foster the development of Djibouti’s economy,” Poindexter added. “While military exercises build security for our Djiboutian hosts, it’s through efforts like Vendor Day that we are able to work together in a civil capacity.”
During the four hours of information-sharing, Vendor Day attendees also took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions.
According to Poindexter, questions ranged from ‘are there any preferences for small businesses over large businesses’ to ‘after receiving a contract award and delivering the equipment, how long does it take to receive payment.’
“This type of meaningful information-sharing is exactly what this event is for,” Poindexter noted. “Not only does it increase participants’ knowledge about how to conduct business with the United States, the one-on-one interaction benefits us all on a human, personal level.”
Overall, the CJTF-HOA Contingency Contracting Office seeks to establish a more robust vendor base in East Africa. In addition to Djibouti, vendor days have also taken place in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda this year.