Over the past couple of years, the annual Barbados Manufacturers Exhibition (BMEX), which is organized by the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) and attracts thousands of customers, has seen a fall-off in numbers. This year, the organizers are introducing several tweaks to beef back up those numbers.
During the official launch of this year’s event, which will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on the weekend of May 18 to 21, officials said they want to give local businesses more exposure and therefore several additions were made to the showcase.
Among the new introductions, is a talent showcase, to be hosted by the talent search company Bajan Challengers, on the Saturday night.
Parents will also be able to leave their children at an indoor or outdoor play area as they browse the booths.
Recently elected President of the BMA Robert Noel, said patrons could also look forward to “a more interactive display” in the food court and the arts and craft section.“BMEX 2018, therefore, promises to be exciting, engaging and enjoyable,” said Noel.
“Last year we were down because we had so many other events actually happening the same weekend. . . so it did tend to take some of the activity away [from BMEX]. But this year, we are expecting a better turn out along with our younger groups who want to come in and present what they have to show the wider Caribbean,” he said.
He said although the showcase was coming against a backdrop of economic difficulty “and to some extent, political uncertainty” as the country waits for a date for the highly anticipated general elections, he was confident the showcase would be a hit this year.“In spite of these difficulties, the manufacturing sector continues to play an important part, not just in our economy, but certainly in our Barbadian society,” said Noel, adding that this year’s theme: “Bajan . . . Fuh Real,” should encourage Barbadians to reflect on “all of the qualities that are positive and which truly make us Barbadians”.
“Qualities such as pride and industry, resilience, hard work and creativity are qualities which place us among the leading developing countries in the world,” he added.
It was in 2014 that the showcase witnessed its highest number of exhibitors in 14 years with 206 booths.
While this year should attract just over 100 exhibitors, Noel told reporters that Solar Dynamics Ltd and leading aerosol manufacturer McBride Caribbean Ltd, who were among several larger companies to withdraw from the showcase for some time, will return this year.
Coordinator of the event, Ann Johnson, said the response from businesses has been good this year, adding that there was now a “waiting list”.
“We are having a lot of young entrepreneurs who are interested in doing BMEX this year. So from that aspect, it has changed from last year,” said Johnson.
“What we are also doing this year [is] having more activities along with the exhibitors. We are having different shows throughout the weekend,” she said.
Among the events are the favoured fashion show, a display by school children, a variety of entertainment and a range of services.
This year, the BMA has again partnered with the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC). After proving to be a hit last year, the TVET Council will again host its World Skills Barbados competition during the expo.
Chief Executive Officer of the BIDC, Sonja Trotman, said the organization would continue to use the BMEX as a platform “for pushing entrepreneurial development and the homegrown offerings of local companies”.
“As part of that commitment, therefore, the BIDC is this year sponsoring the participation of 11 companies in BMEX,” announced Trotman, adding that the companies being sponsored were in the area of health and wellness and they were carefully selected “based on our consideration of the increasing incidences of Non-communicable diseases and our recognition of the need to develop goods and services that will support a healthier lifestyle”.
She said the developmental organization would also be covering 25 per cent of the cost of floor space for eight other entrepreneurs who meet a number of criteria.
The BIDC, for the third consecutive year, will also provide an opportunity for the scores of local exhibitors to form linkages with buyers from the Dominican Republic, Panama, the UK, US, Canada and the Caribbean Community. (MM)