WINDHOEK, June 26 (Xinhua) -- The Namibian Wedding Expo has offered optimism for growth for local enterprises bruised by COVID-19 impacts.
The southwestern African nation hosted its first Wedding Expo since the pandemic outbreak from June 25 to 26 at the Safari Hotel Conference Centre in Windhoek.
Booths at the expo showcasing wedding outfits, decor, legal services, and flowers, among others, attracted a continuous stream of more than 500 visitors.
Akirina Malunga, the founder of Elements by Akirina, an enterprise specializing in jewelry and customized accessories, used the expo as a platform to market her products.
"I specialize in making accessories, which clients often like to view before committing payment. Thus, I decided to exhibit my products. I am hopeful that my products will enjoy success through this exposure," Malunga said on Sunday.
Malunga's optimism is warranted. Entrepreneurs said business dwindled under lockdown and COVID-19 measures over the last two years. At the time, the government restricted celebratory gatherings such as weddings to a small number of people.
"This meant less demand for our products. But before that (COVID-19), we could supply custom-made accessories to more people. So you can imagine the impact. But business is gradually picking up," she said.
She is not the only entrepreneur that benefited from the Wedding Expo, as more businesses maximized the available platform to reach new clientele.
Maria Uushona, who runs Isabella's Bridal Boutique, was swamped with clients inquiring about her bridal dress rentals services.
"Coming here presented a great networking opportunity. I came here with over a hundred business cards but ran out. I am optimistic about business growth," she said, adding that forming strategic partnerships with other enterprises in the same industry will help catapult the small venture into a big business.
Selma Titus, who exhibited events and decor services, said the expo was an excellent platform for negotiating business deals.
"COVID-19 halted event management companies' activities due to low demand and low-budget events. Through this expo, we secured new business, which will catapult us into prosperity," added Titus.
Exhibitors meanwhile also sought to establish new partnerships to reinvigorate their businesses.
Shavonne Burger, the wedding expo organizer, said that the event aimed to serve as a one-stop shop for people planning to get married, making it easier for couples to organize their weddings and for businesses to showcase their products.
"The wedding business is now at a turning point as it is recovering, attributed to the relaxed COVID-19 measures. Weddings and functions resumed, resulting in the growing demand for products," Burger concluded.