They came. They saw. They conquered.
Zimbabwean companies that exhibited at the second edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) left the Durban International Convention Centre optimistic of the future after clinching commitments.
The biennial fair was supposed to have been held last year but was pushed to this year due to the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in a halt in global movements.
So disruptive was the pandemic that the designated host for this edition, Rwanda, pulled out saying the pandemic had affected the construction of a new convention centre.
Despite the challenges in the build up to the fair, Zimbabwean companies grabbed the opportunities provided by the platform.
Glyntime Foods executive assistant Tanaka Marwizi said IATF2021 was a perfect platform for brand awareness as well as potential strategic partnerships.
“We had fruitful engagements with potential distribution partners in SA, the UAE and the UK. Other engagements include potential financiers as well as equipment and packaging suppliers in South Africa,” Marwizi said.
“We have had fruitful round table dialogues on the industrialisation of Africa with organisations such as Pan African Manufacturers Association on strategies for the industrialisation of Africa.”
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Firstme Vitori said the airline’s expectations were met as it was able to engage with a diverse cross section of potential business.
“From hereon we begin the process of following up on the leads established with a view to convert the enquiries into revenue,” Vitori said.
She said engagements with a number of organisations centred on “cargo uplifts for various products and our capacity to offer this service into the region and beyond”.
“There was also a call for the national airline to expand its route network and resume commercial flights to more regional and intercontinental destinations. This also included exploring the possibility of alliances with some aviation partners,” Vitori said.
Cairns Foods Limited marketing manager Sandile Moyo said the food processor seeks to expand its footprint.
“We are already in South African markets. We are in Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique. Now we are opening a depot in Johannesburg. That will be the hub for South Africa and then expanding to other cities. We did get a lot of interest especially here in Durban that want to distribute the products in Durban,” Moyo said.
“We also got people interested in packaging potato supplies. All of our products are homegrown. People want to supply us oil. It was a two-way meeting where we get people who want the product, who want synergies at the back end and others who want to market the product on the online space to want synergies so this was a platform for us to grow
Women empowerment group, ZUBO Trust, said it had brought products to IATF with the intention to sell when it was a platform to showcase to buyers and make engagements on markets.
Notwithstanding the setback, the organisation was able to hold meetings with potential partners who can help in marketing the products, according to sales representative Naison Mpendi.
“There were challenges here and there. We sold but not to our expectations. We hope our engagements will bear fruit,” Mpendi said.
For the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) IATF2021 was an eye opener after the realisation of how much business Africa could be doing with itself.
“We need to deepen our markets from country to country within Africa and this is the greatest potential for us,” said Tinotenda Kambasha, ZIDA’s chief investment officer.
Zimbabwe also came out tops: It won the Best Stand design and the Best Stand for doing business categories.
As an icing on the cake, four local companies signed facilities with Afreximbank worth a combined US$188m.