The long weekend provided huge relief for exhibitors at the ongoing 19th Rwanda International Trade Fair with hundreds of showgoers flocking to the expo between Friday and Sunday. Earlier, exhibitors at the two-week annual event were complaining of low turnout, with many fearing that they would make losses.
BIDCO Uganda’s Brendah Karungi said numbers of buyers went up from Friday to Sunday, giving traders relief. Friday was a public holiday to mark the National Harvest Day, Umuganura, which encouraged tens of hundreds of buyers to go shopping at the fair.
“We expect more shoppers in the last days of the trade fair,” she said on Sunday.
Karungi added that the event has given the firm an opportunity to meet and interact with customers to understand their needs better.
“The exhibition might not involve a lot of sales, but it is an opportunity to listen to customers so that we are able to serve better going forward,” Karungi said.
Christian Karekezi, the marketing manager at Rwanda Foam, said items were being retailed at subsidised prices to encourage Rwandans to consume locally-made goods, which will enable the traders expand their market.
Winnie Pink, a local exhibitor, said the numbers were encouraging, adding that the trade fair has offered them an opportunity to interact with customers directly.
“This has given us a chance to explain more about the quality of local products and why Rwandans should support us,” she added.
Sonia Umutoni, a shopper, who spent over 30 minutes in the line, said she was disappointed that some of the products were more expensive than on the open market. “I expected cheaper prices at the expo, but that was not the case. For instance, earrings that cost Rwf500 each in town, were going for Rwf1,000,” Umutoni said yesterday.
Allen Wibabara from Dovewax Industries said the firm has been able to network and look for new wholesalers.
“Though there were few buyers in the first days, the number has greatly increased this weekend. We anticipate more customers as people expect low prices in the last days which attracts more shoppers,” she added.
Anisia Soleil, a shopper, said she was impressed with the quality of the various products at the expo.
“Though some are expensive, we buy them knowing they are quality products. Explanations and guidance by exhibitors reassures customers about product quality.
This has also helped distinguish the genuine goods from substandard ones,” she added.
However, not all were having a good run. Syridio Uwitonze, the Samona Products co-ordinator, said buyers are still few compared to last year.
“By this time last year, we had sold over 1,000 cartons of our various products, but this is not the case now…We are struggling to sell 500 cartons,” Uwitonze said on Saturday.
The expo started on July 27 and will end this week on August 10. It attracted over 400 exhibitors from 17 countries across the world, mostly from the region and Africa.