It has been a long time coming but finally it’s here – ‘Buy made in Rwanda, Buy Quality!’ Expo.
Starting today February 25 to March 2 will be a very eventful week of nothing but beating the drums on Rwandan made products.
At least 250 local producers and manufacturers are expected to gather at the Gikondo grounds to show off what Rwanda is really made of - business wise speaking.
This will be the very first expo of its kind in Rwanda where only local exhibitors will be present.
Previously, there have been major exhibitions organised in the country but those have always had an international feel as foreigners were invited to showcase their products alongside local producers and manufacturers.
In such expos, exhibitors came from as far as the Middle East and Asia and the expo thus served only as a business platform for Rwandan producers to make business connections with their international counterparts.
This however often times left their products almost oblivious to the thousands of people who throng such expos.
This time around, the Private Sector Federation has taken it a notch higher to the exclusive benefit of the local producers and I believe that this is a step in the right direction.
Buying more locally manufactured products is what the Rwandan Government is telling Rwandans and everyone for that matter. Buying locally made products will increase revenue for local manufacturers, create more jobs and even reduce the trade deficit.
These benefits are in line with Rwanda’s vision 2020 and will go a long way in ensuring sustainable economic growth.
It’s no secret that for most of us, at the mention of locally made products we sigh, roll our eyes and we really just want talk about something else other than that.
The reason is because when someone mentions local products, we imagine that what has been said is something along the lines of poor quality products.
We automatically associate locally produced products with poor quality products. And no one wants to be associated with poor quality products.
While it could be the case for some products due to a number of reasons, it is not always the case.
There are local companies that have out done themselves and are supplying top quality products that rival imported ones in the market.
This fact is important to consider because if we don’t change our perception on locally produced products and really put things into perspective, we are the losers.
We need to give local companies a chance to grow by first and foremost accepting them as equal players in the market.
Before you think about importing a product or buying an imported product, ask yourself, is this product available locally? In the supermarket, before you reach out for the imported fruit and vegetables, and whatever else, consider whether the product is available locally.
For every imported product you buy (that is actually locally available), you affect someone’s job, his/her family’s well being and ultimately the very society you live in.
Consider what happens to employees when a local company can no longer keep its doors open due to loss of revenue to imported products. The dismissed employees will be unable to cater for their families’ basic needs and it is such desperate circumstances that often times lead people to engage in negative vices in our societies.
The negative perception we have of locally produced goods has contributed to a stifled SME sector. Capturing the local market is vital for the sector’s growth.
Many of the big corporations worldwide started as an SME so there’s great potential yet to be realized with our local SMEs. When we show our support by buying locally produced goods, we encourage growth of not just the sector but the country’s economy as a whole.
Buying locally produced goods is also a great chance for you to show your patriotism and love for the country so why not take time off at the expo and see what Rwanda has to offer.
The New Times opinion section
By Minnie Karanja. The writer is a social commentator based in Kigali
Disclaimer: The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Private Sector Federation (PSF) or its investors, clients and partners. PSF is also not responsible for any errors of fact contained in the articles.