International Fair…my foot!

Monday morning I arrived to the office tired, from running around the country attending to some emergencies, kinsmen kind. On my desk laid a card beautifully designed and written. You are invited to attend the steering committee for The Nairobi International Trade Fair at a breakfast meeting, at The Intercontinental. That was exciting. ‘Free’ breakfast, and a chance to network with other great minds behind something so fundamental; NAIROBI INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR…or so I thought.

Without saying much on the organization of the said breakfast and such, it was well done. Attendance was considerably good, some prominent and familiar faces were there too. I shared a table with some pleasant ladies from Chandaria Industries, and some two journalists, from Kenya News Agency (What’s the difference with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation?) and another from some media house, I forget.

Deliberations kicked off, with introductions of the officials. I didn’t know Nairobi Trade Fair is an initiative of some parastatal, established just to see that the said fair is a success. With their big titles and larger than life introductions, they rolled out a Power-point with their strategy, the plan, event plan. They also gave their date; end of September. I chocked on my breakfast…my free breakfast.

There was nothing international about the said fair. Well, maybe it’s just me but what exactly is so international about children play and merry go rounds, police parades and fertilizer display at an International Trade Fair? Then they went on, detailing the performance of past events. Last year there were eighty (80) ‘international’ businessmen at the fair. They came to sell duvets and pillows. Others apparently came to see what was on offer (read the fun fair stuff), presidential escort motorbikes and fertilizer… oh and the disco, that one, Omega or something.

Barney & Ted - HIMYM: 'We are International Businessmen!'

The Chairperson still went further, detailing why this year’s fair needs more marketing, and how their target is to have five hundred (500) international businessmen. I could not help but remember an episode from the sitcom ‘How I met Your Mother’; when Barney Stinson went to pick girls (literary) at the airport with Ted Mosby. Their plan went south; they were busted by cops on the plane. Barney’s strategy out; ‘We are international businessmen, let us go!’ I actually felt like shouting that towards the podium but the person at the helm of the said organization seemed quite hostile towards anyone thirty (30) years old, or younger. This is informed from her answer to one question from the audience asking why there are never enough judges to assess performance of every stand. She said the Marketing Society doesn’t have enough personnel to serve their mandate and they cannot take anyone under 35, because they are inexperienced. Seriously, she did say.

Well; I could go on and on. In a nutshell, the people behind Nairobi International Fair have no clue what an ‘international trade fair’ is and what Nairobi, Kenya can benefit from a properly organized and delivered trade fair. We even have better events with Homes Expo, Turkish fashion Week and the likes than what this government driven affair is. I gave a comment at the event, and they said they appreciated, but there are no funds to organize a trade fair of the kind you will witness in Johannesburg, Dubai or Istanbul here. Their budget is ‘small’ and can only cater for security (I guess because the president will officially open it once more) and arranging for transport and that kind of stuff. They even had a jingle, a radio jingle that will attract folks to go there. I will resist temptation to give an endless rant about the jingle.

I do not think a trade fairs needs much sponsorship from the government anyway. My understanding of events of such kind is simple and pretty much direct;

  • Research and Development
  • Need Analysis
  • Strategize
  • Develop models
  • Sell the IDEA to TRADERS and BUSINESSMEN(Corporate of course, across the world)
  • Have them buy in, buy paying a fee, for facilitation
  • Advertise, internationally… This is visual business… people see, then come from interest developed… to buy something, an idea, borrow a model, find contacts!
  • And many other things… na kadhalika… I AM NO EXPERT.

So to say budgets, and bring funfair and such for something they call International Trade Fair is misrepresentation… let them stick to ‘Maonyesho ya Kilimo’ and put Tea and Fertilizer on display. Then folks can get on Double M buses and go over there to walk around and suckle on ice water as they watch police parades, and take instant photographs on presidential motor bikes on site… I am I done? No, here are some links of what actually happens around the world;




Well, that’s about it, before I unleash anymore venom. So, who’s going save us? Any Public Relations Firm of kind that can organize this? Or something like that?

Till then, Cheers!


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