Malaysia’s recognition worldwide for its sought-after bilateral halal system and standards helped Malaysian entrepreneurs expand abroad.
That was the feedback during the 8th edition of OIC Halal Expo 2021 at the Istanbul Congress Centre, Turkey, on Nov 25-28, 2021. In conjunction with the expo, My Events International organised the Malaysia Showcase, a platform to showcase and launch the latest halal innovations, renewable energy and sustainable products to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries.
The showcase was in collaboration with Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and SME Corporation Malaysia, supported by the Malaysia Exporters Association (MEXPA), Aladdin1 and ASEAN Chamber of Commerce & Industry Malaysia.
It featured 46 Malaysian companies (29 physical exhibitors and 17 virtual exhibitors) and witnessed the exchange of five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) during the event.
The Malaysia Showcase at the 8th OIC Halal Expo generated US$6,627,395 in potential sales.
In an exclusive interview with @Halal, Hema Kandy, CEO of My Events International, said Malaysia had become a go-to place for acceptable halal systems and standards.
“Of course, we are not a ministry, nor are we a government agency. What we can do as a private sector company is to provide a platform. We provide a platform for entrepreneurs and get support and endorsements from the government of Malaysia, said Hema.
“It is more of industry players getting together and going to certain countries and promoting their products and services. Not only do they promote, but at the end of the day, they get sales.”
She said when they first booked the space at the expo, they did not expect an overwhelming response from companies and entrepreneurs. They thought some might not be ready to go out due to the Covid-19 situation.
“But to our surprise, many of them were eager to go out. They had the appetite to go out of the country to showcase and sell their products, to develop and to network with new people and buyers.”
Overwhelming response from companies
Hema shared: “Actually, this is our second year of participation. We first participated in 2019 when we were invited by the organiser of the OIC Halal Expo, the Discover Events, and the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC). We reviewed and brought it up to MATRADE. They told us that we could go ahead and try it out, and we did!”
In 2019, My Events International brought in 20 companies to the expo with only 60 square metres of space, and the response they received during the 2019 exhibition was overwhelming.
“We felt that there was a lot of potential for our exhibitors and entrepreneurs who are seeking businesses not only in Turkey but within the Eurasia region,” shared Hema.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organiser of OIC Halal Expo cancelled the 2020 event before making its return in 2021.
For this time around, she said My Events International only confirmed 150 square metres of space at first. However, due to the tremendous response from the Malaysian government, trade agencies, ready-to export companies and entrepreneurs, the event organiser increased the space to 216 square metres.
Hema shared that exhibitors at the Malaysia Showcase were exhibiting physically or virtually. According to Hema, online exhibitors were mainly the entrepreneurs or companies brought in under MATRADE.
“We brought in 29 entrepreneurs that were present physically and 17 that were present online. So, there’s a total of 46 companies.”
Five MoUs signed during Malaysia Showcase
Hema revealed that multiple B2B meetings were concluded successfully throughout the event. As the organiser for Malaysia Showcase, she said My Events International felt responsible for bringing in visitors and potential trade buyers to the booth and not relying on other parties.
In doing so, Hema said the event organiser invited potential trade buyers and visitors to look at some specific products suitable for them. Before the actual event, My Events International had the exhibitors list their ready to export products and helped to match them with proper buyers.
“I am delighted to say that we managed to sign five MoUs, and the total sales for the MoUs that were signed were US$569,395. That was a good amount to start with. Besides the B2B meetings, we also provided a platform for exhibitors to do pitching,” said Hema, adding that My Events International worked with about 21 trade association chambers who helped to connect them with the trade buyers.
A total of five MoUs had been signed and exchanged in the Malaysia Pavilion between the Malaysia Showcase’s exhibitors and their counterparts. The exchange of MoUs included the following companies:
1. Waham Sdn Bhd & Medicare Global
2. ASUV Technology & Kreteg
3. Ezee Food & Deniz Feneri Dernegi
4. Malakat Eco Group & Saccarra
5. Ezee Food & Linkage International Shipping & Forwarding Co. Ltd
During the pitching session, each participating exhibitor was given a platform inside the pavilion of the Malaysia Showcase to promote their products and services to all pavilion visitors. According to the post-event report, the virtual pitching managed to pull more crowds into the pavilion.
“With that online business itself (virtual exhibition), we attracted sales potential of US$1.738 million. Then, physically we brought in sales of US$4.32 million. So, we have got nearly US$7 million in sales. That surpassed our target as we only targeted about RM20 million for sales.”
Iconic Teh Tarik session
Another highlight at the Malaysia Showcase was the Teh Tarik session. According to Hema, the organiser’s impromptu idea was to provide a more casual and relaxing environment for exhibitors and visitors to have their enlightening roundtable conversation.
“Malaysia is known for its ‘teh tarik’. To our surprise, it caught visitors’ attention and many exhibitors from other countries. So every evening, at 4pm we do it like how we do it here in Malaysia.
“So, we carry our culture, and we introduce that culture to all our friends not only from Turkey but from all the other countries, and they fairly enjoyed it. Our ‘teh tarik’ was sold out every day. It became an attraction,” said Hema.
During the session, visitors witnessed the demonstration of ‘teh tarik’ pulling trick that was famous in Malaysia. Hema explained there was also a pantry at the pavilion that provided the 3-in-1 sachets of the drink, and visitors would just come to the booth and get their ‘teh tarik’ cravings fixed.
“We also had invitation cards to explain what ‘teh tarik’ is all about and all our exhibitors invited their friends, buyers and trade visitors during the Teh Tarik session.”
Hema added that they implemented some Covid-19 precautions for the safety of the exhibitors. Even though Turkey did not have a stringent Covid-19 ruling, the dedicated My Events International team took the initiative to conduct PCR tests for the delegates before the departure and conduct regular sanitisation at the pavilion.
“Malaysia Showcase is a brand by My Events International. A brand that we carry abroad showcasing all Malaysian products and services, which are ready for export.
“We provide the platform for entrepreneurs who do not have the accessibility, network and capability. We provide them with this platform so that they can join us in showcasing their products and services to not only trade visitors but the trade buyers.”
Opportunities for local businesses
In its post-event report, My Events International concluded that the Malaysia Showcase during the 8th OIC Halal Expo was successful.
Nevertheless, the event organiser received some constructive feedback from the exhibitors and observed some aspects they could improve in organising future events.
The three aspects included booth space, meal provision, and translator availability.
“English is not the main or second language in Turkey. Hence, it may become a challenging issue. Therefore, appointing a resident or student from Malaysia as a translator is crucial. This will allow better communication and understanding between two parties,” said the report.
In addition, the exhibitors of the showcase also thanked the organiser for opening up an opportunity for them to showcase their products and services to Turkey and other markets.
Nur Aliaa Mohd Saad, from Freecap Resources, said it was their first time to join this kind of event. She described it as a good experience for the company.
Another exhibitor, Nurhusni Mahad Nor from MOS Nutraceutical Sdn Bhd, said: “We have gained new connections and prospects. We are happy that many people outside Malaysia are very interested in Malaysian products.”