The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Bulawayo Chamber of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is in the process of facilitating for 30 SMEs from the city to exhibit and showcase their products at this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
This year’s trade showcase is set to be held from 25 to 29 April under the theme; Transformative innovation, Global competitiveness. In an interview, Bulawayo Chamber of SMEs vice-chairperson Ms Sithabile Bhebhe said considering the low number of SMEs that have been exhibiting at the ZITF over the years, they were working on increasing the participants.
“Over the years a few SMEs have had the opportunity to participate at the ZITF. However, this year we want to make sure that more SMEs get space to exhibit their products and services at the ZITF so that they can also get more visibility and opportunities that can contribute to the growth of their businesses.
We are facilitating for about 30 SMEs to participate at the premier trade showcase next month and we are busy compiling a list of the SMEs from the different sectors they are operating in.”
She said sectors that will be given the opportunity to exhibit include clothing, carpentry, metal fabrication, engineering, and chemicals, among others. Ms Bhebhe said the ZITF period was a platform for the SMEs to market their products to a wider and more diverse populace.
She said it also presented networking and engagement opportunities that will allow small businesses to broaden their clientele base not only of locals from other provinces but as well as foreigners attending the ZITF.
Chairman of SMEs at the OK Mart SMEs complex in Bulawayo, Mr Madodana Mpofu said the ZITF should be a way of advertising themselves and what they do so that they can get more customers for the growth of their businesses.
“We will be eyeing investors or potential partners for our businesses that can assist us with capital and upgrading our machinery so that we boost our production,” said Mr Mpofu.
He said as SMEs under the Bulawayo Chamber of SMEs they were continuously engaging the Government in terms of access to foreign currency to import raw materials and expressed hope that they would be linked with investors to assist them.
Mr Mpofu said funding was a crucial component for SMEs to be able to finance the construction of operating buildings or renovations of some of the already existing structures as rates and rentals were exorbitant around the CBD.
Another SME in the clothing sector owner, Ms Sibongile Mwale said their goal was to ensure their products are of high quality so that they can also tap into international markets. She said the trade showcase will give them an opportunity to establish more contacts and business enquiries.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Matabeleland Chapter chairman Mr Mackenzie Dongo said this year’s ZITF should be exciting given that the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have been relaxed and travel space opened up.