About 30 South African business owners received the opportunity to sell their wares and market their services to a global market.
This thanks to an annual international trade show in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, earlier this year.
The trip held in April was organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which helped the group of entrepreneurs promote their businesses during the five-day Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Local traders from various sectors across the country were selected through the department’s Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (Emia) scheme to help expose locally-made products and services to outside markets.
The event brought together hundreds of participants from China, the US, Egypt, Indonesia and Southern Africa, who traded their imported goods for locally-manufactured heavy-duty machinery, shoes, canned foods, furniture and other products.
East London-based businessman Melisizwe Tyali, runs aluminium manufacturing business Uphuhliso Trading.
He says before he heard about the trip, he had just finished an export marketing training programme run by the department.
Tyali responded to the department’s call for business owners to apply to attend the event, after spotting an advert on the trade fair earlier this year,
He applied and was subjected to a selection process that included compliance and verification of his business documents.
On completion, he was successful and along with 29 other local entrepreneurs traveled to Zimbabwe.
Apart from connecting with potential buyers for his products, Tyali says he used the opportunity to weigh up the market in Zimbabwe.
“We found companies interested in our products, but most of all there are opportunities that we can set up shop in Zimbabwe.
However, we are still trying to complete proper market research,” he says.
Says Sidwell Medupe, the department’s spokesperson: “Last year, South Africa was voted the best foreign exhibitor stand (at the fair) due to its quality and design”.
He added that South African firms, who took up the largest single exhibition space (of 800 m²) followed by China (with 600 m²), were able to clinch export deals valued at R55.6 million.
This figure was up from R6.6 million recorded at the trade show in 2011.
He says the trip also resulted in businesses from the other countries participating in the fair to seek investment opportunities in South Africa.
Boitumelo Mathlodi Moeng co-owns Khora Foods in Mamelodi East.
She says her agro-processing business benefited greatly from the trade fair.
“Since we were first-timers at this exhibition I think it is safe to say we faired very well.
People there welcomed our products and now I get emails from individuals asking me to arrange for more of our products to be sold to them,” she says.
The trade fair takes place every year in Bulawayo and is on the department’s National pavilion list, which is a calendar for business-related events.
“The DTI will again accompany more businesses to at the fair next year,” says Medupe.