By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
Traders showcasing their latest products and services at the ongoing trade fair at the Independence Stadium in Bakau under the aegis of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) are appealing to the public to come in their numbers to see what they have.
This appeal was made yesterday when this reporter visited the stands of both nationals and non nationals who are dealing in various products and services such as fabrics, processed and cooked local food, technological devices, etc.
The traders see the trade fair as an opportunity to market their their products and services but are disappointed by the low turn out and the lack of deals.
Musa Jallow, a dairy products vendor from Kombo Farm, said business is very slow as people are not coming in their expected numbers.
He said very few people are coming to buy their products but expressed hope that towards the end of the trade fair they might come out to patronise them.
Jallow further appealed to the customers to come and buy quality products.
He also appealed for government support to boost Gambian entrepreneurs in their businesses.
Muhammed Ndow from Banjul, who sells fashion design clothes and shoes, said he is being sponsored by the EMPRETEC project and that this is his first time to participate in a trade fair.
“The business is very dull during the day but it’s at least better in the evenings between 7pm-10pm as this is the time when people close from work, go to their homes and later come to the fair,” he revealed.
Mr. Ndow said some of his colleagues have told him that the sales they had last year are better than this year’s but that it is hoped that it will be better later.
“Perhaps it is because of the festive week to mark Christmas and the New Year that customers were not forthcoming. Let’s hope that things turn around very soon with more sales,” he said.
As for Fatou Gassama, a young Gambian food vendor, the story is quite different. Not only is she making good sales, the trade fair has served as a good opportunity to expand her business. She said the trade fair is really helping her business by exposing them to numerous new customers. “It is because of the trade fair that many people who have visited my stall and bought my food are now contacting me for catering services,” she revealed.
She added that more publicity needs to be done by the organisers to enable the customers to come and patronise the other vendors.
Omar Coulibally, a batik designer from Mali, was anticipating good sales but he was disappointed. He said they are yet to see the customers come in their numbers to buy the African fabrics they have for sale.
But he has some hope that they will come back. “What we are now seeing are few people who are coming to only view our products and promising to come back. We only hope that they will return to buy,” said Coulibally.
He said he has been attending many trade fairs in different African countries such as Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire but that this is the first time he is participating in one in The Gambia. He said he has paid 500 US dollars for the stall and expressed hope that the customers would be coming to patronise them.
Another vendor from Mali, Muhammed Korkoss, who sells handmade leather shoes and African designed clothes from Mali, also made similar comments and joined in the appeal for more customers. He suggested that more publicity should be done by the organisers to bring out the customers.