Are you going shopping this weekend? If yes, you could visit the ongoing Made-in-Rwanda expo at Gikondo showgrounds, where over 450 exhibitors are showcasing their products. Below are some of the must-visit stalls and entrepreneurs at the expo.
When Samantha Freedom Ahirwe, the Posh Creative company chief executive, started the enterprise, she wanted to make unique sandals for women. The University of Rwanda’s civil engineering graduate designs and makes the footwear that comes in different colours, sizes and designs.
Ahirwe said the firm is driven by innovation, adding that it’s central for the success of the Made-in-Rwanda campaign. The firm based at Rusheshe, Masaka is looking to partner with like-minded entrepreneurs with a view of producing for the regional and other markets.
The young entrepreneur sells a pair at Rwf12,000 and those that buy three or more pairs pay Rwf10,000 each.
The entrepreneur imports raw materials from Kenya.
Supporting youth, women
For those seeking hands-on skills in knitting and crocheting, especially the youth and women, the firm provides training to empower them with these life-long vocational skills.
“With these skills, they can go and start their own enterprises, which help improve their livelihoods and also contribute to the country’s development efforts,” Ahirwe said yesterday.
XIE You, suitcase maker
XIE You Limited makes suitcases from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) material, a common thermoplastic polymer. The material is strong, more durable and can’t get spoilt easily. Most importantly, it is waterproof, according to Peter Rukundo, the exhibitor.
Suitcases are unique in way that they are made of strong and durable materials compared to most of the similar products that are imported from abroad.
The salesman added that they are also cheaper and five times stronger compared to plastic suitcases imported.
According to Rukundo, the smallsized suitcases cost Rwf15,000 each, medium ones go for Rwf20,000, while it’s Rwf25,000 for the big ones.
Rukundo said the newly established firm will use the expo to get partnership in terms of retailers and deepen their market reach. The Chinese company is based in the Kigali Special Economic Zone.
Akanyenyeri, the handicrafts kings
Patrice Hakizimana is the owner of Akanyenyeri, which makes chairs, tables, trays and shoes from banana fibres.
He is inspired by the fact that the raw materials are readily available and are affordable.
The exhibitor gives those buying in bulk discounts. A small-sized chair costs Rwf5,000 and big ones are at Rwf18,000 each, while tables go for Rwf10,000 each, a three-piece set of trays costs Rwf8,000 and a pair of shoes is at Rwf3,500.
The Nyanza District, Busasamana, Gahondo-based entrepreneur said they have few customers presently “because the uniqueness of the products makes them a bit costly compared to their ordinary alternatives”.
He said it takes him three days to make one chair or table. The job is done manually, a reason it takes a lot of time.
The fourth annual Made-in-Rwanda expo is organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) and trade and industry ministry to promote consumption of locally-produced products and also help entrepreneurs to network and find solutions to challenges they face, including improving quality and production capacity.
The expo, which ends on December 5, has attracted about 450 firms.