The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) starts on Tuesday amid optimism among small to medium enterprises (SMEs) that renewed interest from investors in the country will see them clinch lucrative deals.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will officially open the country’s biggest trade showcase that ends on Saturday.
This year’s edition of the ZITF will run under the theme: Sustainable Industrial Development — Inclusive, Competitive, Collaborative.
SMEs who spoke to Standardbusiness last week said the fair would present them with a good opportunity to increase their market reach through engaging with foreign companies exhibiting at the ZITF.
“Yes, we are exhibiting at the ZITF 2018. We have been a regular exhibitor at ZITF since 2010, year in year out.
“We are expecting to meet with new and potential customers and also to get feedback from our end-users of products (the general public) and to grow the Millennium Footwear brand,” Millennium Footwear director Stuart Simali said.
“We are also looking forward to clinching deals with foreign exhibitors and forming synergies and collaborations with both local and foreign exhibitors.”
SMEs exhibiting under the ZimTrade banner said the exposure they got last year was invaluable.
“ZITF was a great platform to market my brand and I attracted a lot of Japanese visitors who had a keen interest in my products.
“I also got a lot of contacts and leads, some of which turned into good business deals,” Sweet Maungwe Honey official Jackie Gowe, who is exhibiting with ZimTrade for the second year running, said.
“Visitors should expect something special from us this year, I am aiming to win prizes again for our stand.”
ZimTrade said it would bring six SMEs drawn from sectors such as processed foods, leather products, honey, coffee, jewellery, and ceramics.
ZimTrade acting CEO Allan Majuru said the SMEs participated in a marketing and branding for international competitiveness (MBIC) training programme ahead of the trade fair.
“One of the modules in the MBIC training programme prepares SMEs with fundamental aspects about how to get ready for shows, and how to attract buyers and promote products during these important events,” he said.
“ZITF might be their first show, and in addition to raising their profile, can act as a grooming platform before taking on international trade fairs, which are often much more competitive.”
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Bulawayo branch chairman Golden Muoni said there was need for organisers to offer incentives to court SMEs who had become the country’s economic backbone.
“There are quite a number of good things, which are being done by SMEs but because they don’t have information or the financial resources to pay for exhibition space, they end up not participating,” he said.
ZITF will be attended by foreign exhibitors and buyers from countries across the world including Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
China, Cyprus, Germany, Ghana, India, Namibia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be represented by individual companies.
ZITF board chairperson Ruth Ncube said this year’s fair had been oversubscribed.
She said the amount of space made available for exhibition purposes had increased by 6% from the 2017 figure and 7% from 2016.
Ncube said space uptake by foreign exhibitors had also been good with 18 foreign nations being represented at the fair.
She said the international exhibits would cut through a number of sectors including education, mining, aviation, transport, food, clothing and textiles, packaging materials, event management and cultural exchange programmes.