By Gary Hatigeva
SMALL and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in and around the country are indeed benefiting from the mini-tradeshow that is currently underway in the capital, Honiara.
As part of the 6th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) for this year, the Ministry of Commerce together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, agreed to stage the mini tradeshow, with intentions to help small businesses promote their products and services.
On Tuesday, Island Sun was on site talking to a lot of the reputable SMEs who are participating in the show through invitation, and the feedback was massive.
One of the biggest winners is the Rela Coconut company from Malaita province, who expressed happiness to be part of what their representatives described to be, a game changer event for them.
In an interview on Tuesday, Fred Maelasi of the Malaita based company, explained that the mini tradeshow has truly served its purpose for a lot of the participating SMEs, most of which are new establishments.
Young Maelasi added that the event has also given a lot of the local SMEs an opportunity to promote what they have on offer, in terms of their products and services, which he thought can play huge part in the national economy.
“Like in our case for example. Back in the province, we not only manufacturer our products from our own resources, we also extend our sources to farmers in the rural settings who supply us with their raw products where we purchased from them.
“In this way, we are helping farmers benefit from their own resources, while at the same time create employment opportunities for our young people through our set up,” Maelasi explained.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bisafo another representative of the Rela Coconut company, also expressed that they are grateful for the opportunity for being part of the event as it gives the wider public audience and customers, to give feedbacks, “which will help us improve our products”.
“Thanks to the ministry of commerce and the MACFest organising committee for inviting us to this important event as it meant a lot to some of us, where we are able to get direct feedbacks from the visiting public.
“Otherwise, we would have produced without realizing the actual or specific expectations of our customers regarding our products and would have wasted a lot of time and money on what will not make returns for us.
“Before coming to the show, we knew our productions were done according to consumer standards, but we also see that there are massive rooms for improvements, and so we hope to go further after show with our products after the event,” Ms Bisafo added.
The group is also looking forward to take part in similar events in the future and assured that they will return with a much bigger and wider range of products made.
Currently, the locally owned company produces four different products from coconut, which includes a soap that has an added cocoa flavor, hair food and body lotion.
Island Sun was unable to get the exact number of participants for the mini tradeshow but a lot of those participating with booths and stalls on site are mostly local but recognised manufacturers, with the likes of Soltuna Company Ltd, Women Specialised Weavers of Simbo in Western province, Coconut Pasifik who manufacture and export various products from coconut, the Honiara Women Council, Varivao Holdings who is now one of the country’s major exporters in coffee, kava and a few other root crops.
Others according to interviews, are mostly new establishments, who also joined the Rela Coconut Company to express their appreciation for being part of the show.
The mini tradeshow is at the Panatina campus venue of the Solomon Islands National University, and it continues throughout the whole of this week along with the timing of the Arts and Culture festival.