The just-concluded Rwanda Culture Day in San Francisco, California in the US attracted scores of local businesses, many participating in such events for the first time.
While the event primarily focused on showcasing the country’s cultural heritage to the Rwandan Diaspora communities and foreigners, organisers ensured businesses also had the opportunity to use the event to market their products and services among Rwandans abroad but also other potential clients.
With Rwanda among the countries that can access the US market relatively easily, thanks to the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) framework, Rwandan businesses have a chance to sell their products in the US and significantly impact the country’s trade balance.
And, in Rwandan Diaspora associations – that have in the recent past helped grow interest in the country among Rwandan Diaspora communities globally – local businesses have the opportunity to cultivate and grow contacts among the country’s Diaspora, who are not only potential clients but can also serve as critical intermediaries and partners in foreign markets.
But Rwandan businesses should not always wait for such events to create linkages and further explore opportunities in foreign markets. Rather, they should always endeavour to invest in such trips to get vital exposure and learn from best practices elsewhere whenever an opportunity presents itself.
And, like some of the exhibitors at the Rwanda Cultural Day in California said, the prospect of making profits might not make business sense in the short term, but there are immense benefits in the long term.
During such trips and exhibitions, local businesses should also seek ways to improve their production processes and entire value chain, and how best they can leverage such things as technology to grow their businesses.
Skills and technology transfer should be an integral part of the objectives of foreign study tours and exhibitions for local businesses.