Society Debate: Does the annual Expo improve business competitiveness?

It is too short to have a big impact Both the young and old storm Gikondo Grounds every year during the trade Expo to experience the power of cheap bargains on stuff they have always wanted to buy. Traders dealing in the same items will show the utmost respect for customers in a bid to woo them to their stalls. Advertising will be at its best, cleanliness will be paramount and the supply of goods will try to march the demand.
Ivan Mugisha
Ivan Mugisha

It is too short to have a big impact

Both the young and old storm Gikondo Grounds every year during the trade Expo to experience the power of cheap bargains on stuff they have always wanted to buy.

Traders dealing in the same items will show the utmost respect for customers in a bid to woo them to their stalls. Advertising will be at its best, cleanliness will be paramount and the supply of goods will try to march the demand.

A fortnight later when the Expo is done, everything will go back to normal as if nothing was learned; business owners will sleep in their offices and the customer will not be considered as king anymore. These are some of the woes that still face our country’s private sector.

One may wonder why there are few businesses that show the same enthusiasm like that portrayed at the Expo. The simplest answer is that many traders view the Expo as a chance to make huge sales, instead of using it to get practical and useful business concepts.

I was shocked last year when I visited a downtown restaurant and was asked to pay for tomato sauce (you may know it better as ketchup)! For God’s sake, isn’t this a disincentive to business? Who in the world doesn’t know that tomato sauce must come along with fries?

When I asked the waiter why he had ordered me to pay for the tomato sauce, he said it was the rule at the restaurant, and that if I insisted not to pay, I would be the first in their history to refuse to pay for tomato sauce!

He even went further to give me directions to a nearby restaurant where apparently, they bring the tomato sauce along with the food. You my readers can try to fathom how infuriating that was.

Now, the Expo has been around for fifteen years now, but unfortunately, we still have people who simply have no clue on how to handle their businesses.

I was happy to see waiters and waitress last year racing in the city with cutlery glued in their hands- this was some sort of competition initiated by RDB to improve the way restaurants handle their customers.

I tried to look out for that particular waiter who had served me to see if he was trying to learn something from the race but unfortunately I didn’t glimpse him amongst the hundred racers.

Anyway, I hope he did participate and picked a leaf or two. Although I may seem to heap a lot of blame on the waiters, they are not the problem- the business owners are the real problem!

Some business owners seem too lazy to want to benefit from the numerous opportunities that the state avails them.

The Expo is meant to help them improve their businesses; but instead of utilizing it to the fullest by learning how their competitors work, they lay back and count how much they made from the Expo.

Fifteen years have passed since the first Expo was held in Kigali; business people must start to look at it as a chance to grasp a few business tips. Other than that, it will always come and go without a trace.

mugishaivan@yahoo.com