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‘Liberians Blind-Eyed to Local Products’

first_imgArtifacts dealers in Liberia are expressing grave concern that Liberians are not interested in purchasing their products, thus making it difficult to survive by the business.Making the complaints in interviews on the compound of the United States Embassy in Monrovia where the 9th biannual Arts and Crafts Fair was carried on Saturday, May 10, vendors noted that the only advantage they have in the business is the products are durable, but other than that it takes a long time for them to realize the principal invested.Michael Stone, a vendor of Arts and Crafts said his products like other products on the fairground, reflect the true image of Africans and good for design, but only foreigners are interested in buying the products and not Liberians.He sells some of the products by set, and based on the varieties, prices are determined.According to him some are sold for US$20 while others are US$15 and below.In response to question why Liberians are not interested, Mr. Stone indicated that many are not just interested in what is produced by them.“We can only receive buyers when season is approaching and foreigners or Liberians living abroad come to buy, but ordinary Liberians living here are not interested in products made locally,” Stone noted.Mr. Stone and others who spoke to this paper stressed that the cultural arm of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) is not proactive in fostering cultural affairs that will bring them on board to carry on exhibition as the US Embassy did.He described gesture by US Embassy to conduct the Arts and Crafts Fair as an “opportunity” that enables them to exhibit their products, and further said it helps to create awareness to prioritize locally made products.Ellen V. Zeze, a vendor and artistic designer, also said she has been in the business for a long time. She noted that it has made her to have customers who usually come to buy from her. She, however, stressed that most of her customers are foreign visitors or those living abroad, but not ordinary Liberians living here.According to Ellen, fair initiated by the US Embassy helps to showcase their products, and they were grateful to the embassy staff for helping them because cultural artifacts they sell are of less interest to Liberians.Also Osman Keita, who sells masks, said only foreigners buy from them for history making and studying, but Liberians are not interested in buying things that reflect their cultural heritage.US Embassy Charge d’AffairesGiving the background of the fair in an opening statement, Sheila Paskman, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Monrovia said the artifacts fair on May 10 was the 9th biannual fair and is one of the favorite traditions of the embassy.She also said the fair was the biggest so far since they started five years back, giving the total number of vendors showcasing their products to be 121.She said while the event may be a biggest money making event of the year as people would believe, it is also meant to get vendors display their products, promote entrepreneurship and to learn how to package their goods.In an exclusive interview, Ms Paskman said the biannual event is a start-up point for government to build on in conducting similar thing to help its citizens promote entrepreneurship.Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell said as they travel to other countries they see handicraft works of other people and they admire them.She said, “This is time now for Liberians to showcase their works and we are proud of the US Embassy for the biannual event and we thank the artists for doing their work which we think they will always do.”Some products displayed during the fair included handmade country garments, shirts, dress, shoes, slippers, lady bags, artifacts of various designs, preserved spice and many others. Analyses on Liberians’ attitude towards local productBesides food that Liberians are compelled to buy for consumption, they hardly give much preference to locally produced materials like handicrafts for several reasons.Among them, prices of most of these artifacts are exorbitant that the averaged Liberians cannot afford.  Prices are charged in the United States Dollar and not many can afford the dollar.  Moreover, the Liberian dollar is depreciating to the US dollar as the exchange rate stands at 90 in most places. As a result prices are skyrocketing beyond the income of an ordinary Liberians.Besides, there is a general attitude that artifacts are old fashion not in conformity with contemporary materials, and therefore many Liberians see users to be uncivilized.  Moreover, some religious people, mainly Christians see artifacts as idols and therefore do not accept them in their homes.Even though imported Jeans and other fancy clothes on the market have prices ranging from US$10 upward, many young people and adults prefer wearing these fancy clothes that expose sensual parts of the body to wearing lapper suit or dress which covers most parts of the body.As referenced to earlier, government has not been much involved in trade fair for Liberians to create awareness about their products.  In addition, Liberians are not protected under the “Liberianization Policy,” something that’s gets aliens and foreigners to have edge in the business sector and discourages Liberians to involve in entrepreneurship.The US initiated arts and crafts fair was also characterized by raffle draw.  This means that the highest buyer was offered a price apart from what he/she bought, and this created motivation for buyers to purchase more from vendors who have over the time been struggling to survive by the business.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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WCup brings no lasting cheer for Russian beer

first_img0Shares0000For many football fans, no game is complete without a beer © AFP / Vasily MAXIMOVMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jun 20 – Football fans from around the world are flocking to Russia’s bars, beer gardens and craft beer pubs to quench their thirst as the World Cup heats up.But the surge in sales will not have a lasting impact on Russia’s beer industry, where consumption has been losing fizz for years — ever since it lost its classification as a soft drink. Russia ranks 14th in terms of annual alcohol consumption per capita, according to the World Health Organization.But with spirits — chiefly vodka — traditionally playing a stronger role in social life, Russia ranks far lower at 32nd in terms of beer consumption, according to a 2016 survey by Japanese beermaker Kirin.Part of the reason why Russians are drinking less beer now than they were in the early 2000s is because of moves to restrict sales and advertising.Higher taxes on beer and declining consumer spending power have also contributed to the decline.The real turning point came in 2011, when beer was classified as an alcoholic drink rather than as a soft drink.Since then, nighttime sales have been banned, as have sales at street kiosks and in particularly large volumes.– ‘Compromise’ needed –Since 2013, with a major economic crisis in full swing, the market has contracted more than 24 percent and is set to lose another 11 percent by 2023, according to an estimate by Euromonitor.“Between 2007 and 2017, tax on beer grew almost tenfold,” said Pavel Yerankevich, senior development director at Baltika, Russia’s number one beer brand, which now belongs to Denmark’s Carlsberg group.Football fans in Russia are giving a boost to the local beer market © AFP / Vasily MAXIMOV“All that together with the unfavourable macroeconomic situation has of course influenced the state of the market,” he added.Yerankevich thinks Russia risks going too far with measures designed to prevent alcohol abuse, even as he acknowledges the problem is widespread and needs to be tackled.“We need to find a compromise: on the one hand to put into action the government’s reasonable goals of lowering alcohol abuse and reducing the sales share of strong spirits, but on the other hand, not to put up artificial obstacles to business development,” he said.The World Cup may be a “driver of growth” in beer sales, he said.“But in this case, the increased demand will only affect this period without changing the overall annual trend,” he added.Yury Antonov, who heads the Ochakovo beer factory in a Moscow suburb, says sales to bars and consumers have risen ahead of the World Cup but he is downbeat about the longer term.“We don’t think that the market will stabilise any time soon. We think that the market will continue falling,” he said.– Anyone for a craft beer? –All-American lager Budweiser, as the official sponsor of the World Cup, may be the only beer likely to see a strong benefit.Budweiser, made by Belgium-based AB Inbev, is the only beer allowed in stadiums and fan zones.Alcoholic beverage sales are banned in a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) radius around the stadiums.The Budweiser brand has ensured its logo is highly visible at numerous spin-off events as well.A spokesperson for Budweiser said it does not disclose specific sales figures, but described the World Cup as a “great opportunity” for the brand.Some other beermakers are also performing better than usual, including alcohol-free brands.In 2017, alcohol-free beer sales saw “solid growth” thanks to “aggressive marketing” by major brands, Euromonitor said in a report.Big brands like to focus on advertising their alcohol-free beer partly because it dodges tough restrictions.However there is a genuine “rising consumer interest and demand” as Russians become more health-conscious, the market research provider said.A surge in beer sales is unlikely to live out the World Cup © AFP / Vasily MAXIMOVThe other type of beer to buck the trend is craft beer, with specialised bars and shops popping up all over Russia’s larger cities.For the moment, craft beer is being produced only by small and medium-sized breweries.But Euromonitor analysts expect that “larger brewers will also increasingly focus on craft beer so as to help offset losses in the lager category.”Artyom Zimakov, who owns Beermood, a craft beer bar in central Moscow, said he is delighted to see his bar packed every day so far in the World Cup.The market for his type of product is “very dynamic and it’s growing,” he said.“It’s going to grow fast.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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