Is trade fair still relevant?

 

The 10-day Malawi International Trade Fair (Mitf) ended on Sunday with stakeholders expressing different views on whether it was a success or not.

While Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) communications manager Millie Kasunda said the fair was a success, some stakeholders argue that this is the worst trade fair they have attended.

Patrons admire some of the products during the trade fair

She admitted that the fair had little surprises, but said it achieved the objectives.

“The fair created businesses for many companies. For instance, Mahindra and Honda told us that they got a number of prospective clients who promised them businesses.

“It also created a networking platform for businesses. We paired the foreign companies with locals ones. Local businesses such as Ntchisi Cooperative and Amasi Shoe Designs were paired with foreign companies Cornelder and Spotless and they say the partnership created businesses for them,” Kasunda said.

However, a Tanzanian exhibitor Dia Gasule had no kind words for the trade fair held under the theme Industrialisation: Basis for Trade Competitiveness.

“This is my seventh time to participate in the trade fair, but this year’s was the worst. I spent days without clinching any deals and I am now wondering if I have reason to come again next year,” she said.

Another international exhibitor, Virginia Ndungu from Kenya, said the fair was poorly organised and is losing its relevance over the years.

She contradicted MCCCI on business deals, saying she left the fair without any deals.

“I came here to get businesses, but I am going back empty-handed. The organisers have failed us. It was poorly patronised,” Ndungu said.

But Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said the success of the trade fair should be measured by its intention.

“It is about exposing businesses and getting new clients. It does not matter how many, but by having more than one customer, we feel proud,” he said.

This year’s fair attracted 242 local companies and 13 foreign ones, a drop from the previous year’s 250 local exhibitors and 15 foreign firms.

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