Africa's first permanent international trade exhibition centre was launched yesterday at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to try to stimulate South Africa's export industry.
The Absa International Trade Bureau (ITB), owned by Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), promises to boost South Africa's global trade activities considerably, said Absa Banking Services managing director Robert Emslie.
Though most of the exhibitors are larger companies, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) has partnered with the ITB to create opportunities for small businesses.
Out of 122 exhibitors Seda has facilitated 14 spaces for small businesses from around Gauteng.
"We have secured these stands for an initial period of eight months on a rotation system of three months a business," said Seda chief executive Wawa Damane.
This is the first time that Hawk Luxury Tours has been exposed on such a high-profile marketing stage. Hawk Tours director Lucas Molaba said that he felt sidelined for a long time as a black business owner, even with the dispensation of democracy.
"We are ready to go forward and expand, but it has been tough," he said.
"I don't even put a picture of myself on the brochures because some people, though they see the quality of our buses, wouldn't give us business if they knew I was a black business."
Molaba added: "I would like to start tours and airport shuttles, and I think this exhibition will give us the opportunity to tap into that overseas market wanting to visit townships."