By Sanna Camara
Beatrice Prom, corporate services manager of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has said that trade fairs are not just about sales but lasting contacts that can serve businesses for life time.
Speaking to journalists at a press conference yesterday evening at the trade fair venue, independence stadium, Ms. Prom said the fundamental essence of any fair is, among other things, for businesses to network; sell their products and services even beyond the trade fair.
She said the fair has its share of success stories which the media has not focused on. “A Senegalese trader for example took some soap commodities from the fair here and started distributing it in Senegal. Today, that trader has specialized in distributing the soap beyond the frontiers of Gambia and Senegal. This is one example of how trade fairs facilitate trade and networking for businesses,” she said.
She admits that although they have their challenges “which are usual” for any venture like this one. “We learn from these challenges each year and use it to improve on the next year’s,” she pointed out. She further explained that the sanitary facilities at the venue have been misused by the public during the fair, which had cost the stadium management money to repair, and change pipes that have been blocked by solid wastes.
Power cuts, according to Ms. Prom, are equally a national problem in The Gambia currently. “However, we are very grateful to Nawec for their support. We wrote to them after the first day’s power blackout and they have since been giving us constant electricity. When power goes off, we just call them and it comes back in five minutes,” she maintained.
Prices of stalls according to her, are determined by the expenses that goes into organising the trade fair. “GCCI pays for the venue of the fair, the construction of the stalls and dismantling them afterwards, cleansing and security services, electrical wiring and maintenance throughout the fair, publicity, among others. All these are factored into the cost of stalls,” said Beatrice.
“Generally, trade fairs are expensive. GCCI takes part in trade fairs outside The Gambia and our delegates do not make much sales either. Rather they network and sometimes even batter their goods which can be sold when they return. The prices of stalls have remained the same since 2003 until this year when it was changed to reflect the new situation,” she added.
She said the GCCI made a record in this year’s fair by registering over 250 stalls – the largest ever.