By Paul Ntambara
After 14 days of frenzied business activity with young and old shoppers cramming the stalls and exhibitors showcasing and demonstrating their latest products, on August 8, curtains fell on the 15th Rwanda International Trade Fair (RITF) that attracted a record attendance.
Billed as the most successful Trade Fair ever by both local and international exhibitors, the fair attracted over 490 exhibitors from 20 countries including Rwanda the host. The handsomely attended fair attracted about 200,000 visitors with 80 per cent of the exhibitors attesting to have made satisfactory sales during the fair. The fair, in its duration, created employment opportunities for over 1,000 young people.
At the closing ceremony attended by exhibitors and other high ranking government officials and diplomats, Trade and Industry Minister Francois Kanimba remarked that through the trade fair Rwanda has showcased its productivity and potential in agriculture, ICT, trade, and other services to local and international visitors.
Kanimba called upon local and international investors who attended the trade fair to continue identifying opportunities for doing business in Rwanda.
“Rwanda has numerous emerging opportunities for local and international investors in the area of value adding industries for agricultural and livestock produce, Manufacturing and services,” he said.
The Minister noted that there was a remarkable upscale in the profile of exhibitors, product range, customer and innovation during the 15th RITF.
Faustin Mbundu, the Chairman of the Private Sector Federation noted that the cornerstone of the economic policy of Rwanda is a private sector-led investment in all facets of economic activity. He lauded government’s efforts in ensuring private sector participation in all government programs and plans.
Mbundu expressed his delight that a sizeable proportion of the products exhibited by industrialists and medium and small scale entrepreneurs at this year’s fair were mainly indigenous.
One of the major concerns raised by exhibitors during the 15th RITF was the limited exhibition space at the current trade fair grounds in Gikondo. The PSF chairman noted that plans are underway to create more exhibition space so as to accommodate many more exhibitors during the 16th RITF.
Exhibitors noted a remarkable improvement in the way the fair was organized. They hailed the high security provided by the Rwanda National Police that created a secure working environment.
Tom Mugira speaking on behalf of local exhibitors said that the fair provided an opportunity to advertise and sell products.
“Most importantly it was an opportunity to learn from our colleagues so as to improve in terms of quality and value addition.”
Mugira implored local exhibitors to attend trade fairs in other countries to show what Rwanda has to offer to the rest of the world. He requested for more exhibition space and facilitation to attend fairs outside the country.
John Tumwesigye, the representative of foreign exhibitors appreciated the hospitality shown to exhibitors during the two weeks of the fair.
As is the tradition, the trade fair was crowned by the award of trophies to winners in the different categories. The panel considered a number of aspects in choosing the winners. These include: External appearance including promotional materials at the stand, internal arrangements and displays, design and layout and function of staff.
The panel of experts looked at relevance of displayed presentations, clarity of the messages, use of visual and audio communication tools, customer care, depth of knowledge of exhibitors, information dissemination, quality of products, availability of technical information of the products, quality marks, packaging, labeling and design as well as marketability, innovation, type of technology and creativity among others. Bralirwa Ltd was crowned Best Overall Exhibitor.
Retail and distribution
2nd Best Exhibitor : SIMBA SUPER MARKET
Best Exhibitor : MOVIT
2nd Best Exhibitor : CELINO LTD
Best Exhibitor : TWIFATANYE DECOR
2nd Best Exhibitor : SORWATHE
Best Exhibitor : INYANGE INDUSTRIES
2nd Best Exhibitor : KARISIMBI RESTAURANT
Best Exhibitor : BRASSERIE DES MILLE COLLINES
3rd Best Exhibitor: BANK OF KIGALI
2nd Best Exhibitor : ECOBANK RWANDA
Best Exhibitor : EQUITY BANK RWANDA
2nd Best Exhibitor : SECURITY WORLD TECHNOLOGY
Best Exhibitor : TIGO RWANDA
Manufacturing and Equipment
2nd Best Exhibitor : RAINBOW INTERNATIONAL
Best Exhibitor : SULFO RWANDA INDUSTRIES
Best foreign exhibitor
4th Foreign Exhibitor : MADHVANI Group
3rd Foreign Exhibitor : FUBISUN
2nd Foreign Exhibitor : YVONNE EXCLUSIVE DESIGN
Best Foreign Exhibitor : EISENKRAFTT
Best Foreign Country Exhibitor
5th Foreign Country Exhibitor : MALAYSIA
4th Foreign Country Exhibitor : KENYA
3rd Foreign Country Exhibitor : GHANA
2nd Foreign Country Exhibitor : UGANDA
Best Foreign Country Exhibitor : PAKISTAN
Best innovative Exhibitor
2nd Innovative Exhibitor : SAHSRA ELECTRONICS
Best Innovative Exhibitor : EAST AFRICAN GRANITE INDUSTRIES
Customer Care Excellence awards
3rd runners up: RSSB
2nd runners up: UNILEVER
Overall Winner: RBC
Best overall exhibitor
3rd Overall Exhibitor : RWANDAIR
2nd Overall Exhibitor : MTN RWANDACELL
Best overall Exhibitor : BRALIRWA
Rwanda National Police
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Juliana Ruta from Tanzania
Rwandans now understand the value of the trade fair, there is a spirit of the EAC building, people appreciate the quality of our products but they are not willing to pay high prices, they want to buy on the cheap but on a whole we are comfortable with the way the fair went.
Allan Numa: MTN official in-charge of sponsorship and promotion
This year’s trade fair was better than those held in the previous years, the organization and attendance was good and from our side we surpassed our targets. We had a special promotion on handsets. We had on offer a special handset going for Rwf5000, we exceeded our targets, we actually doubled our sales. We will extend this promotion to our service centers. It is important to note that the exhibition space is becoming too small, we need bigger space.
Munir Gagnani NM Marketing formerly known as FIDODIDO (Indian exhibitors)
We are pioneers in the ice cream industry. I have participated in virtually all trade fairs in Rwanda and I can say the level of security has always been high and there was a marked improvement in the organization of the trade fair. We are grateful to the Rwanda National Police.
This year we brought in an aspect of Indian magic. People think that magic is bad which is not true. Indian magic is a game of the mind and trick of hands.
We taught about 500people on these tricks with our stand attracting hundreds of people not only for magic but also for ice cream. We plan to open up an ice cream parlor in the city centre because of the interest we got from the public at the trade fair.
Yusuf Beraguma, marketing representative Bakhresa grain milling
Our products were well received on the market; our main objective was to showcase our products. We also made good sales of our products especially our malt drinks which are new on the Rwanda market. We have plans to manufacture these products here in Rwanda.