once again this month. Find out why it makes sense to attend, whether you are a
business owner or simply interested in all the great goods and services on
offer here in Cayman.
Promoting the ‘Buy Cayman’ cause has always been at the
heart of the Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, this year held from 21 – 23
October at the Family Life Centre, just off Walker’s Road.
In the late 1980s, the Chamber Council established a Buy
Caymanian Committee to develop strategies to encourage consumers to purchase
locally. Membership surveys determined that consumers were concerned mostly
with prices, variety and quality of service. It also revealed that many
residents were unaware of the selection of products and services that were
available locally since many of these businesses were n different locations
around the Islands.
Mitzi Callan was the first chairwoman of the Buy
Caymanian Committee, which also included William Peguero, David Guilfoyle, Ken
Pooley, Ed Pallo, Harvey Stevenson and William McTaggart Jr. The group was
determined that the best approach would be to develop a Buy Caymanian campaign
to educate the community about the benefits of purchasing locally and to create
an event where small businesses could showcase their products and services to
the local community. They wanted to encourage people, friends, neighbours, to
check out what was on offer in Cayman, and they realised it made sense to
gather businesses together, in the same place, to capture the community’s
attention all at once.
The first Business Fair was held in 1992 at the Lions
Centre. Wooden booth stalls were erected and 30 businesses participated. The
event was designed to attract families and several activities were organised to
allow as many small businesses as possible to showcase their products. Small
business training seminars were also planned as part of the event. In 1995, the
name of the event was changed to the Business Expo and there was greater
emphasis placed on creating a business environment for selling products and
services at the event rather than creating a “fair” atmosphere.
Joanne Diaz-Berry, Programmes and Events manager with the
Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Centre says the Business Expo
connects people and allows both businesses and consumers to establish a
relationship. “During these challenging economic times, it is much more
important for each of us to learn more about what local businesses offer consumers
right here at home,” she says.
The Chamber of Commerce Business Expo attracts over 3,000
people over the weekend in which it is held. Diaz-Berry says it has and
continues to be the largest business event of its kind on the island.
“For businesses to make a connection with that number of
people in such a short period time, it is the ultimate marketing opportunity
for their organisation. The Expo allows the exhibitors to expand their customer
base – think of the opportunity to have a captive audience of thousands of
potential customers from major industries, government, subcontractors and other
businesses,” she confirms.
According to Diaz-Berry, many entrepreneurs have used the
Expo to launch their businesses and some of them have now become very
successful, such as Icoa Fine Foods, Digicel, Paradise Coffee, Audiophile and
the Hypoxi Studio.
She confirms that the Business Expo is always
well-attended by the public as a whole. “The Chamber of Commerce has been a
champion of businesses in the Cayman Islands. This annual event provides
everyone in the community a chance to learn about the latest and greatest that
is available right at home. The Expo draws between 2,000 and 4,000 visitors and
approximately 40 exhibitors each year which is a good indication of the support
received from the public and its members,” she confirms.