Feature: Rwanda exhibition shines light on country's small-scale entrepreneurs-Xinhua

Feature: Rwanda exhibition shines light on country's small-scale entrepreneurs

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-08-09 20:42:30

KIGALI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The largest Rwanda international trade show since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions puts a spotlight on small-scale entrepreneurs' Made-in-Rwanda products.

Organized by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation, the Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Exhibition Ground in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, runs through Aug. 15.

In its 26th edition this year, the exhibition drew more than 413 exhibitors from 21 countries around the world, including 118 from abroad.

Alongside merchandise from international exhibitors and established Rwandan companies are products from small-scale firms, providing a glimpse of emerging local entrepreneurs.

"Life is back to this exhibition. This is the best exhibition I have attended since the COVID-19 pandemic," Didius Hategekimana told Xinhua from his exhibition stand. "We are showing wood cutlery, which is very rare to find."

"Some people can't believe that these products are made in Rwanda, but I want to assure them that Made-in-Rwanda products are of high quality."

Hategekimana, whose company, Kigali Didy Designs Cow Horns, operates in the capital's Gasabo district, attended his first exhibition four years ago at the same showground.

"Exhibition expands our market network. Even after the exhibition, we get orders from buyers who visit our stand," he said.

"It is great to see more made-in-Rwanda products being displayed," Hategekimana said. "It shows that more Rwandan entrepreneurs are emerging and people are becoming more innovative."

"Buyers are appreciating the quality of Rwandan products unlike previously," he said.

Hategekimana recalled that few exhibitors and buyers visited the previous exhibition in 2022 due to COVID-19 protocols.

"If you move around now, there are many exhibitors and buyers and even the exhibition stands were expanded," he said.

Not very far from Hategekimana's stand, Pendo Rita showcases shoes and ornaments produced by Rita Design Company, her firm in the Kicukiro district.

It is her first time to attend such a big exhibition.

The COVID-19 lockdown, which affected people globally, is what got Pendo to think of creating her own job.

"Self-employment offers better prospects. I like work," she said. "I felt that when I dedicate my energy to my own business I can push ahead faster."

"We are happy that the Ministry of Trade and Industry supports us as youth to exhibit our products," Pendo said.

She said local companies sell quality, original and durable products.

Most of the exhibitors of made-in-Rwanda products are allocated stands close to each other, facilitated by the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Marie Nyirambarushimana, another exhibitor, sees this exhibition as part of the efforts of the ministry to facilitate the growth of small-scale entrepreneurs in the country.

Nyirambarushimana, who owns a shoemaking company, said it is her first time to exhibit in Rwanda. She previously exhibited in Kampala, Uganda.

"It has been two years and half since I started a company making shoes. Exhibitions facilitate business networking and learning to improve product standards," she said.

Nyirambarushimana, who works with her husband in running the company, hopes to expand her business and be able to travel outside the country to import her own raw materials instead of relying on other importers.

"No customer has ever complained about my products. One buyer refers another buyer to me because of the quality of our shoes," she said.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Hategikama, a salesperson who represents Ikirezi natural products company, showcased mosquito repellents, air fresheners and essential oils, including those for skin care.

"The annual exhibition helps to make our products known, which increases the company's sales," he said. "Made-in-Rwanda products have attained a certain level of appreciation with such exhibitions. New innovations are seen each year."