Grace Makwata, the proprietor of Jiguya Enterprises arranges her garments at her exhibition stand within the 6000sq2 of space within the Africites Summit underway in Mamboleo, Kisumu County.
From handmade shirts, dresses, bags and shoes, the Kenyan Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) exhibitors in the textile sector have pitched camp in Kisumu City hoping to cash in from 10,000 attendees of the summit
The main aim is to showcase made in Kenya products with expectations of high sales during the five-day summit.
“We are here excited to come and do the exhibition and we are grateful that as SMEs we have gotten an opportunity to showcase what we do. We do production of clothing and accessories such as shoes, bags and jackets. We are here to showcase to the visitors and investors who are here to come and see what we do,” she says.
Makwata travelled all the way from Mombasa County to display her products whose prices average Kshs. 3000.
“We are expecting sales. We are expecting to promote Kenya with our Made n Kenya products. These are purely made in Kenya and these are our handwork. As women we are excited to come and showcase our work,” Grace adds.
Opposite Jiguya Enterprises is the Annwash Creations run by Ann Ngare who is also showcasing her products.
Despite making to the summit, she is optimistic she will cash in during the event despite the low marketing of the event by the organizers.
“Africities is a good conference, it brings all African delegates. We know the business will boom.” She tells me given that she makes garments with African prints.
However, for Ngare, her main concern is should there be increased order by visitors post the event, exporting the goods to other African countries is still proving a challenge.
“When it comes to exporting, we need the government to intervene because there are so many challenges when we are exporting. At the border, they tax each garment separately. Accessing the east African countries is very difficult,” says Ngare.
According to the women exhibitors, increased investment in the textile value chain such as introduction of hybrid cotton which has seen the rise of millers such as Rivatex, Thika Cotton Mills, Mountex and Spinners has been critical in reducing expensive imported garments.
“I am looking forward to setting up a shop here in Kisumu. It is a city that is growing so I intend to have one shop here because so many foreigners are coming here because of infrastructure such as the airport,” adds Ngare.
Other exhibitors include local and foreign companies clean energy, smart lighting solutions, traffic, water, and education sectors.
Each exhibitor was required to pay Kshs. 30,000 for stand at the Africities Summit 2022.
The intermediary cities such as Kisumu have been backed to be future centres of job creation and investment and cultural interaction backed by efficient infrastructure planning.