Officials are still tallying the numbers but estimate that more than 600 people attended the two-day Produced in Montserrat Expo (PRIME) at the Cultural Centre on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24.
PRIME is an initiative of Montserrat Arts Council, Trade Division, Tourism Division and Office of the Premier to provide a centralised space to display all things produced on the island.
Daphne Cassell, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier said they were pleased that private sector partners came on board to make the expo a success. She acknowledged Bank of Montserrat, Ltd, as Presenting Sponsor, MS Osborne as the Gold Sponsor and Silver Sponsors, St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union, Digicel Montserrat and Flow Montserrat.
The event was declared open by Deputy Premier Dr. Samuel Joseph on Saturday morning.
“Any event that shows the creativity of Montserrat is the most important event of the year,” Dr. Joseph said as he cut the ribbon to open the expo.
Speaking backstage to Nerissa Golden on the event’s live stream, the deputy premier said, “we’ve always had these small crafts and industries” and while there are some who want their work to remain a hobby, others want to take it further and go into the international market and we want to support this. He said the top priorities of the government are agriculture and economic development.
Agricultural minister Crenston Buffonge came ready to shop with his branded PRIME reusable bag and said that his ministry will continue to support farmers and fishermen and those who use raw local materials. He said they are very proud of what has been done with cassava and the import substitution project with white potatoes.
The ministry is expected to announce details soon about a new agro-processing facility to further the growth of the sector.
With a record 37 vendors participating, the cultural centre saw a steady stream of visitors and shoppers on both days. Offering products and services in eight sectors, this was 13 more than the 2021 expo.
Sectors featured were: agro-processed goods/light manufacturing, arts and craft, books/literature, beauty, hair and skin care, fashion and accessories, service sector – private and public, fabrications and decor and horticulture.
Shopper Camilla Watts said seeing the vast number of things on display reminded her that nothing should be thrown away. “The wines, the art, you get dizzy inside there. Nobody has anything over us.”
Mrs. Watts added that it would be good to have a place where people can display all the products that were available at PRIME.
Director of Tourism Rosetta West-Gerald said she feels very good about what we have to offer as part of the tourism product. It will give people so much more to take home with them.
Baldwin Taylor, General Manager of Bank of Montserrat Ltd. said his bank will continue to sponsor future iterations of PRIME as it is an important event for stimulating private sector growth. Taylor believes the national bank can come alongside the vendors to offer payment solutions to increase sales and to have the necessary conversations about growth and retirement planning.
MS Osborne General Manager George Sutton said his company is also ready to come on board for the next PRIME. As the island’s largest company, they thought it was good to support the productive sector. Sutton said he was extremely impressed with the high-quality standards on display in terms of packaging and design.
Vendor Prisca Marshall of Rootz & Tings participated in PRIME for the second time. She admitted that Day one had been overwhelming with the number of people who came through the expo hall. Day two had a slower pace but a continued stream of visitors and she was pleased with the sales. Marshall said PRIME also offered her the opportunity to get a lot of valuable customer feedback about the impact of her hair and skin products which she produces.
Jevon West of West Emerald Enterprises participated in PRIME for the first time. At the expo, he offered a selection of eight of the wines which are created from his mother’s recipes. West said there are 16 wines in their collection which are all aged for more than 10 years before being put on the market. His business was one of two winners of a $1000 branding and labelling prize from the Trade Division.
Adena Johnson, the Head of Trade and the lead organiser of PRIME, said West and Maria Naturals were identified by their silent shoppers as two brands which had high quality products but could use assistance with upgrading their look.
Johnson said her team was incredibly pleased with the outcome of the second edition of the expo and was proud that the vendors stepped up their game. A website was launched earlier this month as a complement to the event, to allow people abroad to connect with the vendors. The site, which was built by local software development firm, Lavabits, can be found at https://prime.gov.ms. It is the intention that the site eventually offer payment gateways to complete purchases.
Johnson also revealed that behind the scenes, her division will continue working with the vendors to improve their standards, packaging, labeling, and marketing to increase their potential for export.
PRIME closed with a celebration on Sunday afternoon which was enjoyed by families. Entertainment was provided by Matrixx Dancers, Volpanics Steel Orchestra. There was also a prize-giving ceremony for the vendors who were voted on by the attendees.
The winners of the vendor prizes are as follows:
- Best Customer Service – Elocin by Nicole Duberry – Prize sponsored by the Montserrat Tourism Division and Bank of Montserrat, Ltd.
- Best Booth Layout – Elocin by Nicole Duberry – Prize sponsored by Montserrat Arts Council and Bank of Montserrat, Ltd.
- Best Packaged and Labeled Products – Island Mementos by Ian Gerald – Prize sponsored by Trade Division and Bank of Montserrat, Ltd.
- Most Engagement on Social Media 2nd Place – Nique’s Art – Prize Sponsored by Digicel
- Most Engagement on Social Media 1st Place – Ejiri by Dothlyn & Anderson Kirnon – Prize Sponsored by Flow
Watch the PRIME Backstage Show