Women entrepreneurs look to do business at the world’s biggest tourism trade fair
Women-owned tourism businesses from Asia and Africa are attending the world's biggest tourism trade fair in Berlin, where the International Trade Centre has arranged for them to meet with prospective new clients from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.
The companies' participation in Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) Berlin, along with the B2B meetings, are part of ITC's SheTrades initiative to promote women's economic empowerment and empower women-owned businesses to connect to international markets.
Business-to-business (B2B) activities at international trade fairs are a key component of the SheTrades initiative's work. By drawing together market actors in a concentrated space, trade fairs allow women entrepreneurs to meet potential buyers, broaden networks and establish trust with prospective clients, paving the way for sales, growth, and further investment.
Eighteen women-owned businesses from Indonesia, Kenya and Sri Lanka, offering services from white-water rafting to eco-tourism and religious pilgrimages, are part of the ITC-supported delegation attending the 7-11 March event in the German capital. SheTrades helped the entrepreneurs prepare for the event by assisting them with designing company profiles and contacting potential buyers; a webinar told them exactly what to expect at ITB Berlin.
"This trade fair is something new for us and sometimes we don't know what and how to prepare," said Amalia Yunita, CEO of Arus Liar, an Indonesian adventure tourism company. "SheTrades guides us on how to get attention from international market, how to grab them, how to offer and how to close the deal."
"Women don't require fish but fishing strategies," said Mary Ragui, who runs Favour Tours and Safaris in Kenya. "Women entrepreneurs in the tourism industry are looking for the right networks for success. Thanks to ITC SheTrades for the vision and understanding of the actual problem facing us."
As part of ITB Berlin, to coincide with International Women's Day on 8 March, ITC will participate in a panel discussion featuring case studies of SheTrades' entrepreneurs to illustrate the challenges and opportunities facing women in the sector.
Last year, 15 selected women entrepreneurs associated with SheTrades attended the tourism fair, generating close to $1 million in sales. One of them, Chartitha Abeyratne Hettiarachchi, founder and CEO of Saraii Village, an eco-tourism resort in Sri Lanka's southern Hambantota district, recently reported that the more than $120,000 in deals with international travel agencies that emerged from her B2B meetings in Berlin had allowed her business to hire additional workers and start expansion plans.
SheTrades is also supporting selected women entrepreneurs to participate other leading industry fairs. Last week, at Coterie, a textiles and apparel trade fair in New York, five women entrepreneurs from Bibi Hanum from Uzbekistan, Afrodesiac from Ghana, Mafi from Ethiopia and Dual and Anyango Mpinga from Kenya closed deals worth $60,000. These initial contracts are expected to lay the groundwork for future purchases.
Upcoming trade fairs participated by SheTrades include the World Travel Market trade fair in Africa from 18 to 20 April 2018, Africa's leading and only B2B exhibition for inbound and outbound Africa travel and tourism markets, and CEBIT, Europe's Business Festival for Innovation and Digitization from 11 to 15 June 2018.
SheTrades Global, ITC's annual flagship event on women's economic empowerment, will be held this year in Liverpool from 26 to 28 June. B2Bs sessions will have a prominent place at the gathering, which will provide over 500 women entrepreneurs the opportunity to make new connections and discover business opportunities.