Seychelles on the move - third edition of National Show attracts growing number of exhibitors
A colourful display expertly made from plants adorned the main stage inside the NSC Hall at the National Show, which is opened on Saturday and will end on Monday afternoon (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
The three-day National Show exhibition, one of highlights of this year's National Day celebrations, opened on Saturday morning showcasing the increasing range of goods and services available locally.
The first edition of the show was held in 2010 and the second in 2013, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Seychelles’ Third Republic, and was this year organised by the National Day Celebrations Committee in collaboration with the Small Enterprise Promotion Agency (Senpa) and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).
But the consensus among visitors to the show is that this third edition is far bigger and better than those seen previously, registering 217 exhibitors displaying their products and services both inside the National Sports Complex (NSC) Hall as well as outside over the surrounding grounds next to the ‘Stad Linite’ sports stadium on the outskirts of the Seychelles capital of Victoria.
The exhibitors range from promoters of cottage industries, such as small-scale food manufacturers, sewing and handicraft businesses to medium-sized enterprises, including IT services, processed food providers and tourism service providers.
|The view overlooking the NSC Hall from the main stage (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Some of the largest enterprises on show included car dealers, telecommunication companies and imported food suppliers.
The show is expected to draw a crowd of between 15 to 20,000 visitors from Saturday to Monday - a significant percentage of the archipelago’s population of 90,000.
|Beaming Seychellois beauties display their colourful wares at the outdoor stalls surrounding the stadium (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
A changing consumer environment
According to Vice-President Danny Faure, the Chairperson of the National Celebrations Committee, who launched the show on Saturday morning in the presence of a large crowd of guests, including President James Michel, the third edition of the show is showcasing the resilience of both large and small businesses in Seychelles in an ever-changing socio-economic environment.
Faure said an example of this changing socio-economic environment is illustrated in the trends observed in the 2013 Household Budget Survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics, showing that as living conditions improve, households in Seychelles change their patterns of spending based on changing priorities, meaning that more disposable income was being spent on clothing and transport.
|Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure officially opens the National Show with a speech (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
"It is not surprising that over the past six years, since our first National Show, we have seen an increase in the number of new businesses to cater for the new demand," said the Vice President in his opening remarks.
According to Michel Vielle, the show's coordinator, the biggest sector participating is the trade and commerce sector, representing 27 percent of participants, followed by the service sector with 20 percent.
Vieille said the gathering of so many local enterprises in one location is underpinned by set objectives. He said that besides showcasing the vast range of goods and services available locally, the show is also aimed at entertaining visitors, adults and children alike.
|A wide variety of home-grown vegetables and fruits are on show at the local produce stalls (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Entertainment is an integral part of the show, featuring BMX bicycle stunts and musical animations.
Speaking to the local press after touring the different stands at the National Show, Seychelles President James Michel said the sheer number of participants who took part in this year's show demonstrated that Seychelles has a strong economy and that people are making use of opportunities open to them to do business and create wealth.
"My general impression of what I have seen and what I have heard people talking about is that Seychelles is on the move, Seychelles is going the right way forward, with peace, stability and economic empowerment,” he said.
|Cars, bikes, scooters, jetskis and other toys for boys made up a large part of the display inside the NSC Hall (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
A microcosm of Seychelles under a single roof
Among the small cottage enterprises exhibiting at the show was ‘Juliette's Fabric’, specialising in making curtains, upholstery and cushions.
The owner, Carmel Faure, told SNA the preferred pattern of her fabrics, imported from Hawaii and South Korea is a "tropical forest" theme, featuring palm and banana leaves. She said since launching the business at OJ Mall, near Victoria market, her publicity had been generated mainly by word of mouth.
|Carmel Faure, the owner of Juliette's Fabric, stands beside her products (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Another family business exhibiting at the Show is ‘Exotic Scents’, owned by John and Maria Sullivan, who manufacture bathing soaps and other handmade products from natural oils, such as citronella, lemon grass, cinnamon, coconut, guava leaves and eucalyptus.
In their shapes and vibrant colours, the soaps resemble many local fruits, such as the pineapple, avocado, mango and papaya.
|Locally-made soaps and other fragrant beauty products are made here in Seychelles from natural oils by Exotic Scents (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
A medium-sized business just launched this year is "Amirante Fisheries" owned by James Lesperance, who processes the by-catch of foreign purse seiners for the canned tuna industry.
Lesperance told SNA that the by-catch he purchases, such as bonito, dorado, shark and kingfish, used to be thrown away by the purse seiners before.
"I now clean and vacuum pack them for export to Sri Lanka, India and South Africa."
|James Lesperance of Amirante Fisheries has come up with a good way to ensure that by-catch from the tuna canning industry does not go to waste, producing a variety of different processed fish products, both for local consumption and for exportation (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Some of the products are processed for use in the pet food industry and other fish products are processed by Lesperance into vacuum-packed and ready to heat and eat satini (a popular Creole dish, otherwise known as fish chutney) with added local fruits such as mango, golden apple and papaya to add to the flavour.
Among the agricultural activities on display were Meades Feeds and Westhill Farm, both located at Grand Anse on the western coast of the Seychelles’ main island of Mahe.
Beryl Payet is a partner in both farms and said that while Meades imports feed for broiler and laying chickens as well as for ducks, cattle, pigs and rabbits, the farm specialises in broiler chicken and egg production as well as growing vegetables.
|Fancy a goat? This stall promotes the idea that every household should own an agricultural animal to contribute to the country's agricultural needs (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
All organisations linked to the environment were housed in one large stall. This included the Public Utilities Company (PUC) displaying water and electricity saving devices..
It is estimated that in Seychelles, 20 to 30 percent of a home's energy consumption is used to heat water, and visitors to the PUC stall are advised that installing a solar heating system is one of the single greatest energy-saving improvements a homeowner can make.
As part of its campaign to encourage the efficient use of water in the country, PUC was also promoting "Hippo 7 the water-saver", a water-saving device which is placed in toilet water cisterns and can help save up to two litres of water with every flush.
|The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) has a stall at the environmental section, raising awareness about the Seychelles' national symbol, the endemic coco-de-mer (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Furniture Cave, based at Au Cap in south Mahe is a stall attracting a lot of attention. It uses locally-grown woods, such as Bwa Nwar, Takamaka, Zak and Kalis Dipap to make all kinds of furniture, including tables, chairs and stools.
Patricia Port-Louis, one of the company's representatives at the stand, said the venture, which was launched five years ago, presently employs 20 workers.
The first Seychelles Boat Show
One first-time attraction of this year’s expo is a Boat Show being held not far away at the reclaimed land development of Eden Island, displaying a range of sea craft, ranging from small artisanal fishing boats to luxury cruising yachts.
|The calm turquoise waters of the Eden Island marina are the ideal setting for a national boat show (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Curious members of the public made use of the free bus services being offered to the boat show to come aboard luxury charter yachts and coastguard vessels, and find out more about the products and services offered by this important part of the Seychelles’ economy.
After touring the Eden Island marina to see the different boats on display, President Michel told journalists that he believed the Seychelles could become a centre for yachting in the Indian Ocean as another facet to the tourism and blue economy sectors.
|President James Michel visits the boat show (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
The President said that the blue economy was not only about fisheries but rather any value that could be derived from the ocean, and said that yachting brought wealth to the country and created employment for Seychellois.
"When tourists visit Seychelles and see how we're offering such facilities, they will return and the tourism sector will progress,” he said.
Private Joel Joseph who works on board the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel ‘Etoile', one of the patrol boats participating in the boat show, told SNA that they had a lot of people interested in visiting the different compartments of the boat.
"Its the first time we are participating in a boat show and the public usually do not have such opportunity to board the patrol boat so it has brought about a lot of interest."
|Hundreds of people visited the wide variety of different boats on display at the marina (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Also available for visiting were catamarans and yachts docked at the Eden Island Marina.
Kelvyn Adrienne from Ocean Charters explained to SNA that the company offers charters to groups of up to 14 clients.
"The group gets their food and only have to bring their personal belongings. We take them to wherever they want to go, be it to Praslin, or around Mahe...etc"
Jeanette Mondon was among those who were lucky enough to be taken for a tour onboard the Seychelles green tanker Seychelles Paradise.
"It's a very good initiative. I have been on paradise and now visiting other boats and what I've seen so far is very interesting. From the boat show I plan to visit the NSC Hall to see the rest of the National Show.”