The six-month long Shanghai World Expo was a huge success for Zimbabwe as the country not only derived substantial revenue but managed to put its crafts ware on the world map.
Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni told Xinhua on Friday that the popularity of Zimbabwe's crafts ware led to the decision by the Chinese government to grant Zimbabwe a permanent stand in Yiwu City to exhibit its products.
"The Expo went on very well for us because we managed to send all the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that we had budgeted to send," Nyoni said.
"Up to the end of September our SMEs had sold products worth about half a billion U.S. dollars. And as a result of huge demand for our products, the Chinese government gave us a permanent stand in Yiwu and I will be going there in January to launch it."
Yiwu City is located in the central Zhejiang Province and is famous for its small commodity trade, vibrant free markets and is a regional tourist destination.
Some Zimbabwean SMEs participated at the Third African Commodities Exhibition held in the city last month.
Nyoni said the expo was a success story for Zimbabwe in general and her ministry in particular as the SMEs were able to market their products and put the country's crafts industry on the global map.
The SMEs were able to develop partnership and enter into joint ventures with Chinese business people, a development she said was set to transform the country's crafts industry which has suffered from reduced tourism business over the past decade.
"In other words we derived more benefits from the expo because our SMEs formed joint ventures, made money and now we have a permanent stand in Yiwu where SMEs can send their goods for marketing and selling," she said.
She added that Zimbabwe had made an unprecedented achievement by getting the permanent stand in Yiwu City.
"We have not done this in any other country before. It's historic," she said.
The ministry managed to send a total of 60 SMEs between May and October this year to the Shanghai Expo.
Nyoni said the last group was finalizing its departure from the expo which ended last Sunday.
Apart from providing local SMEs with exposure to a huge market, the expo also provided Zimbabwe with an opportunity to market its economic and investment potential to the world.
President Robert Mugabe and a business delegation attended the expo during Zimbabwe's national pavilion day on August 11 and a China-Zimbabwe Business Forum held the next day.
The expo, which attracted more than 200 countries and up to 80 million visitors, ran under the theme "Better City, Better Life" from where Zimbabwe adapted its theme "Transforming our Communities for A better Life".
The country's pavilion was housed in the joint African pavilion and featured tourist attractions such as the Great Zimbabwe Monument, the Victoria Falls scenery and a pictorial representation of opportunities available in the mining, manufacturing, agricultural, infrastructure and social sectors.
The pavilion also displayed an array of cultural products, souvenirs and vast mineral deposits that depicted Zimbabwe's unique heritage, wealth and its cultural wisdom through posters, videos and slideshows.