For some, Kigali expo was day out in an ‘amusement park’
Friday August 19 2016
Some say it’s like a walk in an amusement park. The “oohs” and “aahs” that come with the various displays are interesting but it boils down to business returns for the vendors and customer satisfaction.
It’s meant to be a fun walk around but the fun needs to be planned otherwise that will be a total waste of time and money (because the entrance fee for locals was Rwf500).
The expo grounds were quite small so in an hour you could take in much with a few stops at interesting stands.
The availability of ATMs from various banks made it easy for the show-goers to access funds.
For those who wanted to unwind as they got entertained to the music albeit not smooth melodies as each vendor tried to draw shoppers with a variety of songs that would lose meaning for music lovers. You literally had to speak really loud in order to be heard by even someone next to you.
The best sales were made in the evening when most people were from work and on weekends when most people tended to get free time.
A majority of the people visited the grounds in the evening, for the food and drinks from various breweries, “We came ready and had to hire more people to help in feeding the people especially in the evening. We had quick snacks like half-cut jacket potatoes to a fully done buffets,” said Isaac Uwimana a proprietor of Sympatique Resto-Bar in Remera.
Parents with children in tow for a fun day out, were seen buying toys and indulging in other fun activities such as face painting and riding the carousel swings was the order of the day.
Eager exhibitors showcased their machinery from across the world to expo visitors and translators were busy explaining to those with difficulty in understanding English.
One exhibitor promised her customers that her team would be back in December for a similar expo at Remera in case they had problems with her gadgets.
Most people however were reluctant to buy some commodities and as Kalisa Mutabazi a local resident from Gikondo, where the expo is held annually, put it, “Most people are reluctant to buy some of this stuff because you are not sure you will get after-sales service especially on the machines and then some of the goods are outrageously expensive and you could get them at a cheaper price once you are out of here.” He had just come to meet his friends for a drink.
A lot was catered for such as the banking option above, mobile money however was a problem as the only mobile carrier that had a stand there was MTN while Tigo and Airtel missed out on the exhibition.
According to Anna Urio an exhibitor from Tanzania with the group TanTrade, “Our main reason of coming to this expo was to get a market so that we can supply. For instance, I have learnt that people need batiks fabric from Tanzania and we are taking some goods from Rwanda to sell back home.”
“Business owners from within the region should try going to various exhibitions to access different opportunities. You don’t have to run your account dry it is by joining trade associations or co-operatives that you get your team registered and in return expand your market through contacts,” advised Ms Urio.
Just like any market place there were cases of commotion here and there but security guards around stalls took care of such instances as well as warding off petty thieves.