The Small Business Exposition

One assumes that (sooner rather than later) there will be some sort of official assessment of last weekend’s Business Exposition, the event being the first of its kind and the organisers, presumably, wanting to determine whether the event might have been sufficiently successful to warrant its annualisation.

Our own reading of the situation having taken the ‘pulses’ of both vendors and attendees at the event is that while there was evidence of energy and effort in putting the event together the outcomes may have fallen short of what they might have been.

One of the issues raised by vendors and attendees alike was the fact that the crowds were ‘down’ on the customary GuyExpo fare. That, of course, might have been because the organisers went to some lengths to make the point that last weekend’s event was no GuyExpo and specifically, the entertainment offerings that have customarily attended GuyExpo would be absent from the Business Exposition. As one official connected with the planning of the Business Exposition told this newspaper, “people will have to make up their minds whether they want a business fair and exposition or a wine down.”

We share that view though it cannot be denied that we are going to have to fashion events which, their substantive purpose notwithstanding, can attract people who simply want to have a good time, in a reasonable manner that is. The vendors, for example, accept that the noises that emanate from the ‘boom boom boxes’ can be a counterproductive distraction though they point out that even people who come to events of this nature simply to have a good time are not altogether disinterested in the items that are on display or sale.

The reality is that the attraction of an event like the Business Exposition for the small vendors who set out their stalls at Sophia over the weekend is the larger than usual one-off market that it offers and not surprisingly they tend to measure what they expend to participate against what they make from the event.

Some of this newspaper’s own observations about the content of the event itself are, first, that there were far too few Amerindian-made products on display. More than that (and this is not a generalisation) we have seen higher quality handiwork coming out of Amerindian communities. Accordingly, it is worth enquiring whether we have still not been able to address the logistics of getting Amerindian produce from the interior areas to the city and whether those aspects of quality control that would take their work to the next level have still not been addressed thoroughly.

Beginning this week the Stabroek Business will run stories on some of what we considered the standouts at the Business Exposition; and there were quite a few efforts that were reflective of ventures into new sectors, creative product choices and perhaps above all else quite a few examples of an appreciation of the importance of higher standards of packaging and labeling if our smaller producers are to ‘make’ the higher end of the local market as well as the regional and international markets.

What we were unable to determine was whether the visitors from the region who were supposed to be visiting the event with a view to exploring possible collaboration with local vendors in terms of marketing in the Caribbean did visit after all and what the outcomes were.

Our own observations, of course, do not gainsay what the organisers –and perhaps the vendors too – might have to say in an official report. It should come quickly if only because in the last year or so a considerable measure of public attention has fallen on the small business sector and we would want to know whether or not we are headed in the right direction.

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