Local producers, SMEs tipped on market penetration and export growth strategies

Showgoers at last year’s annual RITF. The event created over 2,000 temporary jobs for the youth. / Courtesy

Local industrialists and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) have been urged to take advantage of the forthcoming annual Rwanda International Trade Fair (RITF) to network and forge strategic partnerships that will help them enter new markets to improve the country’s exports.

Donatien Mungwarareba, the acting director for advocacy at Private Sector Federation (PSF), said RITF is a special marketplace that allows exhibitors to promote their products and services, reach new customers, and generate new sales. It is also an opportunity for local producers to exchange ideas, network and share experience with their foreign counterparts as this helps in easing doing business, especially in partnership investment, he added.

“Rwanda is promoting consumption of locally-made products; so we want to use this year’s expo to further popularise Made-in-Rwanda goods and services to the international market. This is also important to create confidence among buyers in Rwanda products and services.

“The Made-in-Rwanda campaign also helps producers, especially SMEs, to improve their capacity and quality to make locally-made goods more competitive,” Mungwarareba said in interview yesterday.

The expo, that is set to attract local, regional and international exhibitors, is scheduled to take place from August 22 to September 6 at the Gikondo Expo Grounds in Kicukiro District.

The event, organised by Private Sector Federation in partnership with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, is expected to attract over 500 exhibitors from more than 20 countries from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Last year, 440 local and foreign exhibitors participated in the expo and created over 2,000 temporary jobs.

Registration is already underway for the event that targets sectors, including manufacturing, agro-processing, financial services, ICT, tourism, handicraft, construction and housing, SMEs, among others.

“Over 80 per cent local and international exhibitors have booked space and confirmed their participation,” Mungwarareba said.

Attracting foreign investment

Besides creating environment for more sales, the RITF has been instrumental in attracting foreign investors into the country. Some foreign exhibitors have ended up establishing subsidiary companies in the country as a result of the trade fair, according to Mungwarareba.

These include JKK International from Dubai, which started a construction company; Mukwano Industries, Roofings and Movit, from Uganda which opened branches in Rwanda; China’s electronics vendor, ALINK Technologies, and Yvonne Exclusive Design, an upmarket fashion store. Others are Egyptian House of Kitchenware, which opened a shop in Kimironko for general trading, and Tanzania’s Dodoma, that makes mattresses, among others.

The two-week expo, which is the biggest annual trade event in the country, is expected to attract 300,000 visitors.