Cross-Border Trade That Empowers Nations


This is an adapted version of the article that was published in CIO Magazine, December 2019 (

Dorothy Diedericks has one goal: to bring about economic and educational empowerment in Africa. Through BlueBlox, the trade compliance consulting company she founded in 2014, she intends to do just that. Determined, courageous, and unstoppable, Dorothy is not afraid of change, especially when it empowers people in Africa, or empowers her to empower them.

Growing up in South Africa, Dorothy witnessed the injustice and inequality that persists in our world. Determined to play her part in addressing these inequalities, she embarked on a journey to find solutions that will empower individuals, increase the economic participation
of the poor and middle class, and ultimately bridge the gap between public and private sectors in Africa. Through the years she worked in government and business consulting, logistics and compliance sectors, and in her spare time, founded a non-profit organization that supported students through university and helped them to find jobs.

Assisting students was immensely rewarding to her, however it soon became apparent to Dorothy that a bigger impact is required to help the millions of people that still require support in Africa.

“I came to realise that the key to empowerment is not in government consulting, because there’s too much red tape. The key to empowerment can also not be found through aid because aid alone doesn’t fully empower, rather it could make individuals dependent. It’s also not truly found in business, as business supports those that are already empowered. So, where is it? The key to empowerment is in trade. Trade is essential to ending global poverty and empowering people, because it can give individuals the ability to add value and earn money, it can bring about change in governments and businesses, it can drive education initiatives to help emerging economies to grow faster, innovate, and provide more opportunities to more people.” says Dorothy.

That’s why Dorothy founded BlueBlox, a trade compliance consulting company known for enabling cross- border trade in Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. BlueBlox focuses on solving real life operational issues on the ground, providing transparent and compliant solutions, and through doing this, bringing about economic and educational empowerment through trade.

With a vision to empower, Dorothy leads her team in helping both international and local businesses to navigate the complex landscape of legislation, regulation, and theoretical applications, by ensuring that clients understand and comply with the local compliance procedures of each country.

International players keen on cross-border trading now demand expert and reliable guidance and advice that can break down trade barriers when importing products into developing markets. This is where BlueBlox jumps in, with its adept trade compliance consulting services aimed at streamlining cross-border trade compliance across emerging markets.

The company’s in-depth local knowledge equips clients with all the particulars required for trade compliance, such as valuation, origin, tariff, product compliance, which authority to contact, and much more – in any country or legislation.

Whether clients need basic trading information about a specific local or international market, or complex compliance advice and guidance, BlueBlox is proud of its history of enabling clients to engage in successful and profitable cross- border trade.

“We believe the emerging markets need more trade. With more trade, one can empower more people, implement better infrastructure, and bring about the desired economic and educational empowerment. To increase trade, we need improved transparency and better processes, all of this can only be achieved if trade is above-board and compliant. That is why, at BlueBlox, we encourage others to, ‘Be Different, Be Compliant.’ It’s through compliant trade that we will see the impact and positive change the world so desperately needs,” she adds

Drawing on years of operational experience in emerging markets, BlueBlox identifies whether officials or traders follow “local practices” instead of the prescribed rules and policies, and BlueBlox gets involved on the ground to educate both parties on the importance of compliant trade practices. The company also offers training, support, and consulting to empower clients with an in-depth understanding of how to identify and avoid these “local practices”, and the importance of following local legislation when arguing their cases. In places where the law is underdeveloped, BlueBlox provides trade facilitation support, in which it discusses legislation matters with authorities, investigates challenges, and devises compliant solutions, all the while following the existing regulations.

Local regulations and the way they are applied do not always align with the international best practices. BlueBlox navigates clients through any misunderstandings and disputes, allowing them to present their case correctly and thrive in the market. BlueBlox’s dynamic team brainstorms feasible solutions to clients’ problems and provides practical, hands-on support, while challenging the norms and demonstrating transparency to ensure that effective and compliant trade is achieved.

“We’re a team of motivated, passionate individuals. We’re trade advisors who remain focused on our goal to empower nations through trade,” says Dorothy. “We look at our clients’ problems holistically, to help them understand and close the gaps that exist between them and the authorities or local players through dialogue,” she adds.

Having secured a solid reputation in the emerging markets of Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, BlueBlox’s future plans include introducing game-changing products that will facilitate the exchange of quality information, support economic upliftment, and provide guidance by imparting necessary knowledge and training.

Staying true to its vision, BlueBlox walks the talk, and endeavours to donate funds to educational empowerment every year.
As Dorothy says, “Empowerment will not ultimately come through aid, but through trade.”


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