This year’s best ever, says BMA head
Only day one of the 2014 Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) and organizers are already declaring it a success.
Speaking before the official opening of the annual exhibition this morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Two Mile Hill, executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA), Bobbi McKay, told Barbados TODAY that the event was shaping up to be the best exhibition ever.
She said this year the BMA had seen the largest number of schoolchildren in attendance at today’s showcase, and many exhibitors had marketed their booths to attract the youth specifically.
“People worked towards BMEX for months. From this weekend people will come to book their booths for next year because they see the value in it; and this, for us, is a change.
“The telecommunications companies, the insurance companies, banks, for the last two years we have seen a surge in their coming out, and they were first to call this year. They are getting return on their money and they are making the contact on the general public over the BMEX weekend,” McKay said.
In addition to the several new schools attending, there was an increased number of new exhibitors, though McKay could not give an exact number.
“I think that we got the word out well. About three years ago, we charged for kids to get in and then the numbers dropped; so we are slowly bringing it back but it is the best in several years which is good for us because they go back and tell their parents they want to come back tomorrow, and the next day,” she said.
Of note was an apparent increase in the number of students actually moving their inventions to enterprise. McKay said she had been calling for this for years and she was very pleased it had happened.
“Before they would do a product for school and then it would die, but now they are doing products and they are making businesses out of it. At least three of the new products showcased in the first room are BCC students. They are producing hand bags, cookies . . . . They are doing things that they can earn a living to pay their way through school.
“This is where I wanted to see this go for a long time, and we are getting there now. It is happening now, finally; and it is a pleasure. What is nice also is that they have gone past the copycat things that we did before . . . . Before if I make chicken you make chicken; everybody make chicken; instead of somebody saying, ‘I make chicken, you make the box to put it in’.
“They are thinking of something different. I see some projects out there –– one lady is making gooseberry chutney and she has it in Regular and For Diabetes. So they’ve really gone above and beyond this year. I’ve seen a lot of really cool stuff. We try to encourage them wherever possible to try to get out of the box because it is time to do something different; and I think this is the best year I’ve seen,” McKay said.