EIPA Promotes Manzini Handcraft Traders’ Products Internationally
…20 Manzini Market, Trade Hub informal traders are participating in online handicraft exhibition
Manzini informal traders who earn a living out of selling handicraft products at the Manzini Market as well as the newly established Manzini Trade Hub are presently enjoying a rare opportunity to have their products showcased internationally as part of an online exhibition that is being facilitated by the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA). EIPA extended an invitation to the Municipal Council of Manzini to select handicraft traders for participation in the exhibition. This is one of the ways through which the Kingdom of Eswatini (through EIPA) attempts to fill-up the socio-economic gap that has been caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in the informal sector by way of boosting sales through the local and international markets. EIPA is a Category ‘A’ Government Parastatal whose mission is to attract, promote, encourage and facilitate local and foreign direct investment and trade in Eswatini for purposes of economic development. A total of 20 handicraft traders were selected. Of these, 10 were selected from the Manzini Market, eight from the Manzini Trade Hub and two Manzini youths were selected from the Sukuma project; a youth entrepreneurship project that is a brainchild of the Municipal Council of Manzini. The products were posted on the EIPA website as part of the online exhibition.
One of the excited youths, Mpendulo Ndlovu, said he had already made sales from people who learnt of his products from the online exhibition. He said he had also received several enquiries from local and international prospective buyers.
“I am really excited to have my products exposed internationally – thanks to technology. I have been able to sell at least three products through this initiative so far. From the look of things I will be getting even more customers soon because of this initiative. This kind of marketing is the first of its kind for me and I’m grateful to EIPA for extending this opportunity”, he said.
Another informal trader, Prisca Mavuso, said: “It is so exciting to experience the care and support from our Municipality. We are also grateful to EIPA for remembering us as informal businesspeople. The online exhibition opens doors for our products to both global and local markets”.
Meanwhile, EIPA Domestic Trade Promotion Manager Sihle Nkabindze said since the organization had not been able to host the annual Eswatini International Trade Fair in the past two years as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a decision was made to explore online exhibition as an alternative.
“We decided to rollout sectoral online exhibition. We have had a number of them already, including a motor show. The handicraft exhibition is one of them. It started on the 24th September 2021 and it is still running on the Buy Eswatini website (www.buyeswatini.com). We are trying to promote the “Buy Eswatini” initiative. Even in the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 EIPA is represented and we are sensitizing potential buyers to visit the Buy Eswatini website so that they can get to see the great talent that the Kingdom of Eswatini has to offer. We encourage people locally and internationally to visit the Buy Eswatini website and make online orders. Formal companies that wish to have their products uploaded on the website may contact EIPA for assistance”.
…FOOD CARTS IN MANZINI FLEA MARKET THIS SATURDAY
The Municipal Council of Manzini will this Saturday host its next flea market on Louw Street (between Bhunu Mall and Eswatini Bank). However, the setting will rather be different from the usual. There will be food-carts with a variety of food to be sold on the day; including traditional dishes. Same with traditional attire and handicraft materials. Other people, including ordinary citizens of the city who may wish to dispose of items that they no longer utilize, have the opportunity to participate in the flea market which will commence at 7am and end at 5pm. Registration for stalls is now open and the participation fees are E150 for individual traders small stalls, E350 for food cart stalls, E500 for vehicle dealerships and E350 for banking institutions. The flea market will be hosted under strict Covid-19 protocols. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the flea market site this Saturday and enjoy an exciting shopping experience. The City of Manzini hosts flea markets every three months as a strategic move to bolster the economy; and this forms part of the Municipality’s Local Economic Development programme. Local citizens are encouraged to make use of this opportunity and generate some revenue. Those who wish to trade in the city but have not yet had the opportunity are also encouraged to make use of the flea markets to generate some revenue.
…CONSIDER DIGITAL MARKETING – COMMERCE MINISTRY ADVISES MANZINI INFORMAL TRADERS
Manzini informal traders have been advised to tap into digital marketing platforms for marketing of their products in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The piece of advice was shared by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade at the Manzini Trade Hub during a training session that the ministry held last week in partnership with the Municipal Council of Manzini. The session covered over 50 informal traders from the Manzini Trade Hub and the Manzini Market. The traders were told that the use of digital platforms was cheaper than the conventional product marketing approach; and that products could be accessed by prospective customers anywhere. “Through such platforms one can advertise their products overseas at the push of a button and reach millions of potential customers who will order goods electronically and instantly pay electronically. Such platforms as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter can be utilised by informal traders in these trying times of Covid-19. Covid-19 has taught us to embrace technology and change our business model. Unfortunately, if one does not embrace change, change will embrace them in a painful way”, the informal traders were informed.
The traders were also taught about product costing and pricing as well as good leadership. They were taught that product price is determined by the overall production costs including labour, time spent producing the product, cost of material, travel and communication expenses and all other inputs. The traders were also encouraged to form a savings and credit cooperative society for purposes of meaningful saving and easy access to capital. In response, the traders said: “We realise that all along we have been underpricing our products. Furthermore, it is essential that we work as a unit instead of individualism so that we all sell at the same price. The price discounts that come with competition are killing us”.