When Rwanda launched an international Trade fair twenty years ago, little did the organisers know that it would have a great impact.
Ihab Saidi an Egyptian and a dealer in leather products learnt of this Trade fair and flew to Rwanda for the seventh edition.
“I started to attend expo when it was held at the Kigali in-door stadium, commonly known as Petit Stade. By then we were very few and there was no competition at all,” he told KTPress.
Saidi has become a regular exhibitor at Kigali International Tradefaire from which he has established contacts with clients.
“The Tradefaire has grown with us, and Rwandans have become our loyal clients. They wait for this annual expo to buy our products. Sometimes, they even order our merchandise and we ship them to Rwanda,” he said.
According to PSF figures, when the trade fair started there was a low turn-up of potential clients not exceeding 120 but Saidi was not discouraged.
In 2010, Saidi started encouraging his fellow businessmen to join him.
At the just concluded Kigali International trade fair which attracted 15,000 clients daily, said was also present selling handbags, shoes, belts and other items and his shop was very busy the whole day.
Saidi’s Memory of Rwanda
The 2015 tradefaire remains so memorable to Ihab and his family; he told KTPress that he almost decided to settle in Rwanda.
“In that year I earned more than Rwf80 million. I swear to God,” he said.
In previous tradefaires, Saidi’s earning was around Rwf15 million and sometimes earned Rwf 10 million but his profit increases every year.
“I was very happy and decided to spend an extra three months here. My family also came here to see this beautiful country,” he said.
Saidi believes that Rwanda has a good business environment and exhibition stand is cheaper compared to other African countries and Europe. For example, he pays Rwf1 million compared to Rwf5 million elsewhere.
For Saidi, the benefits of free movement policy in Rwanda where all African countries obtain a visa on arrival, “encourages us to come to Rwanda with confidence.”
While closing the Kigali International Tradefaire this week, Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairman of Public Sector Federation (PSF), the organisers said that the total number of exhibitors was 433 of which 289 locals and 144 foreigners.
PSF chairman said that every day the exhibition attracted between 15000-20000 potential clients while on weekends and holidays attendance was 25000-35000.
According to the Minister of Trade and Industry Vicent Munyeshyaka, the government will continue to work hand in hand with PSF to promote Expo.
He also assures of continuous support to Made in Rwanda campaign that was launched in 2012.
Despite the celebrated achievements of the last 20 years, he said there is a lot to be done.
“We need more individuals and primary companies in this Expo. We also need a wide and bigger space for the coming years,” he says.
Munyeshyaka emphasized that Expo should not be dominated by only big companies.