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Tanzania: Trade Fair Boosts SMEs StatusTuesday, July 15, 2014 > 09:03:15
By Sebastian Mrindoko
SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) stand in a better chance to lift masses out of poverty as well as contribute to economic growth provided the enabling environment is in place.
Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), Executive Director, Prof Samwel Wangwe, said in an interview that "SMEs have huge potential to change the miserable situation of poverty in the society due to its labour-intensive nature."
The renowned economist made the remarks at the just ended 38th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF), by underscoring its importance in promoting SMEs efforts to expand and penetrate domestic and global markets.
It is generally agreed that encouraging development of manufacturing activities and small businesses mostly undertaken by SMEs is among the best ways of fostering growth and poverty alleviation. He said the trade fair offers crucial catchment area for SMEs to promote their goods and technologies.
"The trade fair could only become meaningful to SMEs if it promotes their activities which are major drivers of the economy and poverty alleviation," he said.
Manufacturing activities undertaken by SMEs have a big potential to create jobs both in the rural and urban areas but only when there is conducive environment for smooth operations of the businesses.
Where there is an increase in processing which is more labourintensive than are assembling industries, manufacturing sector is vibrant.
Manufacturing sector is a critical tool in poverty eradication, employment generation and regional development policies as it creates job opportunities at higher skill levels, facilitates denser links across the services and agricultural sectors, between rural and urban economies and between consumer, intermediate and capital goods industries.
Manufacturing sector is linked to economic growth, but also that industrial development can play a catalytic role in transforming the economic structure of agrarian societies.
During his visits at the Mwalimu Nyerere Grounds along Kilwa Road where the exhibitions took place, President Jakaya Kikwete was impressed by the products quality, packaging and the technology used, saying they deserve to compete in both the regional and global markets.
He, however, challenged local companies to ensure that they keep on improving the quality of their goods to win the international market which is currently very competitive.
The head of the state urged local manufacturers to enhance creativity and technology use to improve the quality of goods in order to increase their competitiveness in the regional and global markets.
"It is impressing to see the growth of technological innovations among Tanzanians which is witnessed in the improved quality of goods," said President Kikwete.
For him, the presence of foreign companies participating in the trade fair should be an important opportunity for the domestic firms to learn from them as well as striking new business deals. This year's exhibitions have attracted nearly 500 foreign firms and 1,700 domestic companies.
Some of the companies that participated for the first time in the trade fair are coming from the United States of America and South Africa.
Industry and Trade Minister, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, said that it was through exploration of opportunities created in the trade fairs that entrepreneurs could build up a strong approach towards winning better business operations inside and outside the country.
Also, the trade fairs could provide the most important catchment area for the local entrepreneurs learn how developed countries were doing business. He said the government was still committed to empower SMEs through creation of conducive business environment as a means of bringing about economic growth and social justice.
He said, "apart from generating wealth, SMEs empowerment was an important component in promoting peace, tranquility and social stability."
The government plan aims at raising small scale level to a medium and large scale enterprises that would change not only the individual incomes level, but also contributions to the national economy will be enhanced.
He said the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TANTRADE) in collaboration with the private sector will establish new exhibitions in other regions, the initiative that would provide opportunity for the local entrepreneurs to display and sell their products throughout the year.
He said the government was committed to enhancing industrial development and move from the medium industries to large industries being supported by agriculture development, one of the significant sources of raw materials for some products.
"Ultimately and after a long while, agricultural sector would remain small than industrial as it was the case of the developed nations like the United States of America," he said.
The local traders to take as challenge the competitions exerted by few foreign companies by enhancing the quality of their products instead of seeking favors.
The economic growth was an open process not concealing in an island but interacting with others to gain new experiences. In supporting SMEs, the government will continue to facilitate microfinance schemes which can reach remotest people where banks have no access.