The Sunday News
Prosper Ndlovu recently in Gaborone, Botswana
THE just-ended 2019 Botswana Global Expo has positioned local participating companies for lucrative export potential and widened the scope for increased collaboration towards harnessing value chain investments within the region.
The country’s trade promotion and advocacy agency, ZimTrade, facilitated the participation of 15 Zimbabwean firms at the event last week during which they shared insights and interacted with potential foreign investors and buyers.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi also passed through the country’s stands and commended Zimbabwe for bringing on board more companies. Company representatives who were interviewed at the close of the event on Friday said they were excited by the level of exposure and inspired by positive market sentiment about Zimbabwean products.
“The exposure we got here was exciting. There is a huge potential to grow our export business here in Botswana and the rest of the key regional markets,” Hardwoods for Africa sales and marketing manager, Mr Peter Marume said.
Local tannery and leather processing firm, Prestige Leathers, was one of the attraction centres during the expo.
The company went on to scoop the second best country stand award. Company managing director, Mr Bryan Wilson, was elated about the outcome.
“We appreciate that our leather products are highly valued outside our borders. Really there is potential for us to expand and we are grateful to the effort ZimTrade is putting to assist us. This is going to bolster our business as the leather sector. The market here is excited by the naturality of our products and its quality as well.”
Edgars Stores’ manufacturing unit, Carousel’s sales and planning manager, Mr Tick Jekecha, said they managed to secure positive leads for both export and collaboration for production with a Botswana clothing firm.
“We met some suppliers who want us to give them some fabrics and have given us options. They actually intend to come to our factory and see us as a follow up. This is a potential big deal for us. We also met some retail clothing shops and this market is untapped and clothing has opportunity, which is why they want orders from us because they are overwhelmed. We will aggressively follow up on this.”
Millennium Footwear founder and director, Mr Stewart Simali, also described the expo as an opportunity window. He said apart from getting export leads, Botswana businesses were also keen to partner Zimbabwean firms in skills development and training assistance in leather processing.
First time exhibitors such as Nnino Ceramics observed that the scope was for wider upcoming businesses to also tap into the export market.
“We have had exposure so far and the market here is amazed by our products. We came here for the first time and there is a lot of interest,” said Mr Zondani Phiri, from Nnino Ceramics.
“There is desire for us to open branches here while some want to be our agents. There is huge potential for growth even in the whole region and yet we have been in this business for just five years. We are already exporting to South Africa, Zambia and Rwanda and have been invited for a similar expo in London, United Kingdom.”
Also among local exhibiting firms was Femina Garments, Good Hope Leather Products, Pension Knitwear, Procitru Investments and steel solutions producer Africa Steel, who all expressed optimism for increased business. Food chemicals and flexible packaging manufacturer, Codchem, said participating at the expo was going to help them expand business beyond Zimbabwe.
“We came here mainly to seek synergies with potential regional players. The information we are getting from this expo will help us strategise for increased exports while we grow business at home,” a company official at the stand said.
A representative of detergents maker, Nelspot Brands, also said the expo has given them “good” leads and hoped that they will bear fruit. The company is desperate to expand its export base as it has the capacity to meet both local and foreign demand.
During the expo ZimTrade Matabeleland regional manager Mr Similo Nkala made a presentation in which he highlighted in detail the trade opportunities between Zimbabwe and Botswana. He also emphasised the need to strengthen for synergies and collaboration to achieve mutual economic benefits.