By Elizabeth Mandala
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says will continue providing a platform for the business community to network and boost their businesses despite the tense political environment Malawi is currently experiencing.
MCCCI Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira made the remarks during the opening of the 31st International Trade Fair on Thursday in Blantyre which has seen both foreign and local traders showcasing their products.
“Despite the current circumstances, business still has to go on and we know people out there are always looking for products and services.
“Some are looking for opportunities to network and make sales,” said Kaferapanjira.
“The trade fair has been organised to allow various business owners to, among other things, showcase innovative products and services to both existing and potential clients.
“It will also give chance for the business community to interact and get feedback and insights from customers and other stakeholders,” he added.
Kaferapanjira, therefore, advised the participants to embrace the opportunity, saying it is paramount in the country’s economy to achieve competitiveness.
He said there is no better place to create business connections with the network players in the business industry other than the exhibition.
The MCCCI Chief Executive Officer, however, recognised the low turnout of exhibitors as compared to last year’s (2018) trade fair as there were 224 exhibitors while there are only 187 this year.
“We started mobilizing participants before the trade fair and due to the political impasse; there was so much hesitation from them which also led to the postponement of the activity from June 20 to August 8 (2019).
“But we believe this is a one-off thing and that the number of participants will surely pick up in the next trade fair,” he said.
Kaferapanjira emphasised that MCCCI is apolitical and assured the exhibitors of maximum security from both private and the government.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) one of the exhibitors under the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI) of Yewo Trading Company, Violet Muyaye, expressed satisfaction with the turnout in the morning hours of the opening day.
“It is different from last year in numbers, especially the exhibitors, but those visiting our stands are more than we expected such that we believe we will get the much-needed exposure,” Muyaye said.
“I have already made deals with two companies just this morning where I will be supplying Bwemba Juice and I hope to make more partners as the [trade] fair progresses,” she added.
One of the patrons, Meya Nkhoma from Ndirande Township said in her six years of patronising trade fair exhibitions she had hoped to see more this year as many people are currently into various businesses.
“Many companies have opened businesses and many people are already running the businesses such that I expected to see more but most haven’t displayed. Let us hope many will show up over the weekend,” said Nkhoma.
The 31st International Trade Fair has attracted exhibitors from Zimbabwe and Mozambique under the theme: “Achieve competiveness through integration into regional value chains.”