South African companies participating in the Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV) in Cuba are optimistic of attracting the attention of potential buyers and clients.
The delegation is participating in the fair through the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) as part of the department's efforts to explore investment and export opportunities in the island nation.
Brand Ambassador of Mpumalanga-based Bayede Wines, Thuli Shongwe, said since the start of the fair on Monday, she has met two potential clients from Cuba and the US who have shown interest in her wines and in establishing partnerships with her company.
"Both meetings promise to yield positive results for our future plans to operate in the Cuban market. The two companies are well established distributors who understand how the market works in this part of the world. They also have clients in Africa who are currently exporting to Cuba and neighbouring islands," said Shongwe on Thursday.
Shongwe said that the Cuban representative extended an invitation for her company to participate in the upcoming Cuban wine show and tourism fair to further engage with representatives from hotels and restaurants.
FIHAV is considered as one of the most multi-sectoral trade fair represented by Latin America and the Caribbean, and being a perfect business platform for both new companies in the international market and those already established.
Meanwhile, co-owner and Marketing Manager of Cape Town-based Rio Largo, Brenda Wilkinson, said platforms such as FIHAV gave her confidence to take their olive oil to different parts of the world.
"These exhibitions enable us to always learn what is available in our industry so we can benchmark our product on that. We have gained customers from most exhibitions so we are happy that we must be doing something right," said Wilkinson who is also receiving promising enquiries from various companies at the fair.
She is optimistic that that the trade leads will enable her company to extend its export base to Cuba. The company currently is already exporting to Germany, the US Japan, Namibia, Taiwan and Mauritius.
The companies received financial support from the dti to participate in the trade fair.
"The objective of participating in the trade fair is to create market penetration for South African value-added products and services in Cuba and to promote South Africa as a trade and investment destination," said the dti.
The fair will conclude on Friday.