ABC4 Helps Buyers and Suppliers Shape the Way Forward for the Helmandi Marketplace
The fourth installment of the highly successful Afghan Business Conferences (ABCs) was held in Helmand on October 4th. Similar to the previous events, ABC4 brought together Helmandi businesses with international buyers to create economic opportunities. Since the first conference held a year ago, the ABCs have been able to evolve from a buyer-vendor meet and greet to a scope that includes information sharing, networking, and a forum to discuss and disseminate upcoming solicitations.
Participation at the event has also broadened since the first ABC event. On the supplier side, more and more local businesses are attending each event – a record 191 companies registered by PDM-A Helmand attended ABC4. For the first time two women business owners attended, both of whom expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to interact with the international community as well as other businesses. Fourteen different buyer entities also attended, including military representatives, donor implementing organizations, UNHABITAT and two local banks.
The first part of the program featured presentations and guest speakers. Two of the presentations focused on the results PDM-A Helmand has seen to date and the successes that have been achieved. The Joint Force Support (JFS) J-8 section presented their procurement procedures and addressed some of the difficulties they faced in the award process including reasons why some previous contracts had been cancelled. CERP presented their contracting process and RCC Helmand explained the types of solicitations they issue and the restrictions that apply to all of the contractors they work with.
The afternoon was designed to allow the business community to interact with the buyer invitees. Buyers were given stands where the businesses could approach them to ask questions, explanations, or to bring up concerns. Local companies were particularly impressed with the opportunity for an open and transparent conversation with the buyers, a local business stated that “the event provided a platform for all participants to share opportunities and [the] way forward for business development in Helmand province”.
The success of the ABC conferences can be credited to the rare opportunity they provide for interacting between buyers and suppliers in Helmand province. Check out this video posted by DVIDS to hear about the opportunities this had provided for a businessman who attended the conference.
ABC4 provided a forum to present new business opportunities, discuss past and present contracts, and clarify misconceptions held by both buyers and suppliers. It is PDT’s hope that they can broaden their scope even further to include potential investors. Locally awarded contracting opportunities coupled with investment in local businesses will further stimulate private sector development, economic growth and job creation in Helmand province.