CIFTIS brings new business, knowledge to 14 NTF III beneficiaries
This year’s China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) was the biggest ever, with 171,000 participants from 126 countries eager to discover ways to export more services and to explore business opportunities in the Chinese market. International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Arancha González described CIFTIS as ‘a great event in global services trade that helps to connect services businesses around the world with their potential clients and business partners, [and] to share information and discuss the latest developments in the world services trade’.
So it’s no surprise that ITC, one of the international partner agencies of CIFTIS, sponsored a group of companies and trade support institutions that are beneficiaries of its Netherlands Trust Fund III (NTF III) programme to travel to Beijing in late May to take part in the annual trade fair. The group included 14 tech companies from Kenya, Uganda and Bangladesh – some of which had never traveled abroad before – that found the five-day event to be an eye-opening and fruitful experience.
Ugandan web-hosting company Hostalite found a potential partner in the Czech Republic thanks to CIFTIS, said founder Dickson Mushabe. But the Kampala-based company’s ‘biggest achievement was the ability to identify a local partner to enable us set up Hostalite and Hostalite Cyber Academy in China,’ he said.
‘This was after a tipoff from one person who visited our stall and informed me that there was a gap of teaching IT courses in English, plus web-hosting and e-commerce services,’ Mushabe said. ‘I can proudly state that because of NTF III, Hostalite is establishing in China, and this marks the beginning of our export journey.’
Electronic commerce was one of the key themes at the fourth CIFTIS, the first comprehensive platform specializing in the global services trade. Sessions covered topics such as cross-border e-commerce, consumer services, e-commerce in rural areas and mobile business payments.
Bunifu Technologies had its first sale from China less than a month after attending CIFTIS, and is now in talks to form a partnership, said Keith Korir, cofounder of the Kenyan computer security-services provider. Korir held lengthy discussions during the fair with the owner of a Chinese trading company who plans to visit Bunifu’s headquarters in mid-July to discuss future cooperation.
Korir, who was invited to the Chinese company’s offices when he was in Beijing, described the visit as ‘a great learning experience, as I had a chance to interact with their developers’.
Another Kenyan company, software-developer SawaSawa, saw the trade fair as a chance to learn about Asian markets generally and the Chinese market in particular, said Chief Executive Officer Sarah Murugi. SawaSawa also hoped to explore investment opportunities and to network with potential future clients.
Murugi held talks with more than two dozen companies at CIFTIS and expects to form business relationships with eight – four of which were also part of the ITC delegation to the trade fair. ‘I also made beneficial contacts from the e-commerce session that I will definitely be following up on,’ she said, referring to the high-level panel discussion in which SawaSawa was selected to participate.
Some 331 contracts worth more than $100 billion were signed at the trade fair. These included 121 international contract projects worth almost $20 billion.
CIFTIS met all the expectations of Ahmad Kowser, managing director and CEO of Bangladeshi photo-editing company bVcreatives. He joined the NTF III delegation hoping to learn about the many opportunities offered by the Chinese market, and CIFTIS delivered.
‘It has been fantastic,’ Kowser said. ‘I had a lot of meetings and two or three of those are very, very serious, and that’s what I was looking for.’
The NTF III programme is funded by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports, affiliated with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.