The 5th Merkato handicrafts festival opens

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“Building the capacity of small and micro businesses will make a huge contribution to the country’s economy in the long run,” stated Ayalew Zegeye, the president of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association in a speech made on Monday March 26, 2012 at the opening of the five day 5th Merkato Handicrafts Festival held at Addis Ababa shopping center building in Merkato.
The festival that was aimed at introducing and promoting small and micro enterprises has been organized by the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association in coordination with the Dutch Embassy. The chamber focuses on helping women entrepreneurs and in this year’s festival 40 women and 3 male, small and micro enterprise owners participated.
Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association has been working towards rebuilding Merkato to make it a more modernized market center of Addis Ababa. It has also been enabling and encouraging small and micro enterprises by guiding them and providing them with strategies about growing their business.
“The festival helps participants to develop a market network by getting together with other producers and consumers. It is also a platform for the participants to introduce their products to the international market,” stated Ayalew Zegeye.
Merkato is passing through rapid modernization and the organizers said festivals and trade fairs like these enable the business community to catch up with the dynamics of modern marketing. In past years several hidden talents and creative pieces of art came to light at the festival. Clothing, colorful accessories, pottery, fancy furniture and handbags attracted many visitors. Entrepreneurs said they felt empowered because they were able to expand their market share, increase their income and contribute to the economic growth of the country.
The Merkato Handicrafts Festival started in 2007 and has become one of the most colorful festivals in Addis.
“I am happy to be associated with this project. These small and micro enterprises are opening much larger employment opportunities for people than large scale industries at the moment,” said Hans Blankenberg Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ethiopia.
“Merkato, being the largest open market in Africa, has diverse values and heritages, historical artifacts and goods. Joint efforts have been extended in promoting the development of Merkato as a center of trade, business, service and manufacturing as well as promoting it as a tourist attraction,” the ambassador further stated.