Some Zimbabweans, who took part in this year’s annual edition of Zim Expo in Chicago, USA, say they are optimistic about making follow-ups on deals they negotiated during the three-day event, which ended Sunday.
Johnfet Sibanda, a pharmaceutical distributor, says some Zimbabweans living in USA indicated that they would partner with him in enhancing his business that is being affected by the current cash crunch in Zimbabwe where a quasi-currency, the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), is devastating industries that need foreign currency to buy material from different nations.
“I met a lot of potential clients and business partners. I’m sure that we will pursue our discussions on boosting each other’s businesses. I’m in the pharmaceutical industry and hope to partner with some businesses in USA. This was a great opportunity for me to create links with international businesses.”
Another Zimbabwean entrepreneur, Andile Mpofu who was the 2017 Miss Zimbabwe USA, said a lot of people showed interest in her Africa jewellery, handbags, attire, purses and handbags.
“I’m happy about potential business partners I got here. I will make follow-ups to ensure that the business deals materialize.”
Show organizer, Quite Ncube, said they were impressed about this year’s attendance, which drew people from Canada, Zimbabwe and USA.
“We hope the event will be bigger and better next year. People attending the event had a chance to sample Zimbabwean dishes, drink Zimbabwean beverages and engage in social networking,” said Ncube.
The event ended by the crowning of Nothando Jack as Miss Zimbabwe USA and Chicago Soccer Team as the 2019 Zim Expo Soccer Cup champions.
Nothando walked away with $1,500, a year’s supply of Honde Valley Foods and cosmetics from Jacque Mgido, a beauty specialist. She will now compete in the Miss Zimbabwe competition back home.
On the other hand, Chicago got $800 and one of the team’s players was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Ohio came second followed by Atlanta.
Zim Expo, which was launched 20 years ago, is an annual event for business development, social empowerment, equity investments and networking opportunities for Zimbabweans living in various countries. It is held in different cities and features a soccer tournament, business dinner, beauty pageant and other activities.
The 20th edition of Zim Expo is in full swing with a large number of people still flocking to the Zimbabwe Embassy corner where some people are obtaining birth certificates and passports.
Some companies and individuals are exhibiting various items with the Movement for Democratic Change stand being another crowd puller.
Indications are that all people visiting the Zimbabwe Embassy corner, manned by two members of staff from Washington DC, are getting birth certificates or passports.
A smiling Minenhle Pedzisayi, who visited the center to obtain a birth certificate for her one year-old son Gabriel, was happy about services being provided by the Zimbabwe Embassy staffers.
"I'm happy that I have obtained my son's birth certificate. I live in Indiana and so it's difficult to go all the way to Washington DC to get some of these important documents. So, I decided to come here and got all what I wanted."
Another happy woman is Indiana resident Ester Gwepo. "It took a very short time for me to process all the necessary papers. I have extended the expiry date of my passport. I'm not worried at all now as I no longer need to travel to DC to extend it."
Apart from these two, Zimbabwean Shamiso Nkonkoni came to the business and social networking event this year to represent the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa.
"We have a lot of t-shirts, hats and other items that we are displaying and at the same time we are looking for new members. It's great to see that so many people support us as they are visiting out stand."
No other party is being represented at this year's event.
The Miss Zimbabwe pageant and music performances by two Zimbabwean artists are set for Saturday night with rising dancehall star Jah Signal promising fireworks.
A DJs competition and Business Dinner capped the day's proceedings on Friday night with some company executives expressing optimism of striking good deals by the end of the day Sunday.
At the same time, some individuals are also displaying items associated with their motherland, Zimbabwe. They include homemade biltong and alcoholic beverages produced in the southern African nation.
Staff members from the Zimbabwe Embassy have become an instant hit in Chicago at this year's annual Zim Expo, a business and social networking event being held in Chicago, United States of America.
People seeking birth certificates, passports and other documents are trooping to a section of this year's event manned by two staffers and some Zim Expo senior officials.
Although embassy staffers were not in a position to shed light on the number of people who have since obtained birth and death certificates and passports, the number of people visiting their desk is a clear testimony of the pressing need for such documents.
The Embassy staff said they were not cleared by top state officials to speak to the press.
However, beneficiaries are happy to have managed to obtain these precious documents. One of them, Dumisani Mpofu, drove from Michigan to Chicago instead of taking a flight to Washington DC to have his passport renewed.
"This is a very important service. I'm very happy to have come to this place to obtain a new passport. The process was very smooth. It was just a two-hour drive to come here instead of going to DC (District of Columbia).
"I live in Michigan and I drove for one and a half hours to come here and the whole process was well executed. I'm really happy about this because I was supposed to visit Washington DC next month to renew my passport which was set to expire at the end of June."
Several people, who obtained birth certificates and passports, expressed the same sentiments, noting that the embassy should expand this outreach program.
Zim Expo co-founder Tonderai Tela said the processing of passport and birth certificate papers was usually a bit hit among Zimbabweans during Zim Expo.
"We are happy that this has become one of our major events and we hope that many people will come and get the necessary documents."
Tela could not give a specific number of people that have obtained these documents following the inception of Zim Expo 20 years ago.
This year's event is also featuring a business dinner, DJ competition, Miss Zimbabwe USA, business exhibition and soccer matches for teams drawn from all over USA.