How SMEs are benefiting from tradeshows

Locally-made boots exhibited by Kigali Leather at the last RITF. Expos promote SME growth. / Samuel Ngendahimana

Each year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Private Sector Federation (PSF) organises trade fairs to promote locally-made products and services.

The tradeshows also act as platforms to sensitise Rwandans about the quality of Made-in-Rwanda goods to increase consumption and spur growth and reduce trade deficit, hence calling for sustained awareness campaigns about the importance of consuming locally-made products.

The country is counting on Made-in-Rwanda to ensure sustainable growth.

Made-in-Rwanda products helped reduce trade deficit by 25.6 per cent in the first half of the year to $671.2 million compared to $902.3 million same period last year.

“PSF and other stakeholders will not relent in efforts geared at creating awareness and changing the wrong perception about local products held by many Rwandans until they fully embrace products made in the country for their good quality,” says Edmond Tumwine, the Private Sector Federation head of institutional relations and public private dialogue.

The PSF official was commenting on the ended 4-day Iby’iwacu brand exhibition in Kigali last week. The expo targeted local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) giving them a platform to market and create awareness about their products.

One of the exhibitors, Jean Luc Munyampeta, the director of RS Manna, said exhibitions present businesses an opportunity to understand better the needs of buyers through interactions and feedback from the public.

“As snack (fried noodles) dealers, we are able to tell whether people like our products or not and to know what they think about them. This helps to gauge the ‘acceptance level’ of our product on the market,” says Munyampeta. Many tradeshows are organised in Kigali and in the provinces each year, with the RITF as the main expo bringing together foreign and local producers and service providers.

Challenges

Tumwine says SMEs have a narrow market, which he partly attributes to low purchasing power among many Rwandans, as well as the high cost of products and lack of capacity to satisfy demand.

Meanwhile, PSF is planning to organise sector exhibitions in future, he says, adding that the government has put in place different incentives to motivate and support local producers.