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Trade fairs lack innovation

Mon, 5 October 2015 23:09
by Linekela Halwoodi


I think trade shows in Namibia have become redundant, or companies have not quite grasped the importance of showcasing themselves at a trade show. 

Trade shows are supposed to provide a platform for companies in different industries to exhibit their new products and services, not to exhibit what the company has been doing for the past 10 years, which is the trend with Namibian exhibitions. 

In fact, the whole affair is reduced to a confined opportunity for people to get drunk and start commotions. 

Trade fairs are supposed to encourage competition and innovation, especially among small to medium enterprises, whether privately- owned or government-run. 

Every year, there is supposed to be a showdown of who is most successful at coming up with the most impressive trade show. 

The norm around here is that people will apply to go and sell hotdogs, or MTC will be giving out cell phones at special prices, or Tupperware sales people would be demonstrating how clean your pans will be when you use their detergents. 

In some western countries trade shows are not open to the public, and can only be attended by company representatives and members of the press. Also, it used to be an exhibition of businesses offering franchises and/ or business opportunity packages for sale. 

When you pump millions into small investments, trade shows are supposed to demonstrate the success of these investments, and you should be able to see where your money went. This is why fairs and trade shows should be divided. 

You cannot expect to be taken seriously if you are an upcoming ICT company which is exhibiting next to a stall selling cotton candy. There is no logic why you should even be exhibiting in the same hall. You should be competing for attention with other small ICT firms. 

Trade fairs are like this because Namibia has not yet developed a culture which embraces innovation yet. 

As the Judgement Call has noted before, most ideas need to have been tested for anyone to buy into them, especially the test. 

They need to compare how these kinds of businesses function in other markets or countries before they can buy into it. This, in return, then turns trade shows into corn dog-selling affairs every year. 

Potential investors are not being given the ample space and inspection time needed to pay attention to Namibian products which could flourish in other countries. 

Of course, you should allow me the opportunity to assign blame here, as there is a need to take SME’s seriously. 

When I say this, I do not mean just paying attention to awarding tenders to SMEs for the construction of flats, but we should be able to buy into other ideas. 

The State is where you should be coming in every year or every few years, The state should fund the most promising ideas that could take help eradicate poverty especially in the informal settlements. 

We cannot be reduced to a nation where a business idea includes opening a cleaning service company which only enriches a few, while those who break their backs are paid peanuts. 

Yes, the State should have opened its eyes. 

We cannot be that nation which thinks entrepreneurship is birthed from driving taxis, or by showcasing at a trade fair.