The Expat Fair Photo: Sino-US.com/Ding Yi
The FCGroup, a Beijing-based company which regularly organizes networking events for the foreigners in Beijing, held its first Expat Fair on Sunday where a wide range of products and services catering to expats were on sale.
The Expat Fair attracted nearly 30 exhibitors from almost all the industries that have something to do with the life of foreigners in Beijing, as the fast-changing city is making it hard for expatriates to decide which are the best products and services to buy out of a mixed bag.
"We have got 25 exhibitors from almost every industry that you can think of. There are international schools, real estate agencies, moving companies, cosmetics, organic produce, food importers, China Radio, spa, massage, water filter companies, business solutions, visa solutions, social networking organizations, traditional Chinese medicine and international hospitals," Colin Friedman, founder of the FCGroup, who has been organizing events since the 1970s and has lived in China for over 16 years, told the sino-us.com, one of the sponsors of the event.
The FCGroup has teamed up with a number of media, especially the sino-us.com, and ran advertisements in newspapers, magazines and social media websites in a bid to promote the Expat Fair inside and outside China.
So far, the FCGroup has developed a database of over 12,000 people in Beijing, which it uses to build business and professional connections, through which the participants can forge new contacts and cement existing contacts for business, career and social purposes.
When asked about the real intent of holding the Expat Fair, Mr. Friedman said that his intent was very simple - he just wanted people to share.
"When I first came to Beijing as a foreigner, there was very little choice. You only went to basically one shop if you wanted to buy imported food. You only had few options to get your visa sorted out…Not that many schooling options. (It is) very, very limited. Today, Beijing has lots of everything for the foreigners. There are lots of supermarkets catered for the foreigners. There are, I do not know, 20 or 30 international schools. There are numerous real estate companies," Mr. Friedman told the sino-us.com, stressing that the Expat Fair is a way to tell foreigners in Beijing who the best product and service providers are in the city.
Mr. Friedman added that the best products and services must be endorsed by most people, rather than a person.
The Expat Fair is beneficial to both the visitors and exhibitors, as the event offers a platform where people can cater to each other's needs.
The sino-us.com, a Beijing-based English news website which had a booth at the Expat Fair, was visited by several English-speaking freelancers and journalists who are interested in covering China's current affairs.
The booth of the Sino-US.com at the Expat Fair Photo: Sino-US.com/Ding Yi
"It (the Expat Fair) is nice and cosy. The fellow exhibitors are very nice and friendly, waiting for people (to visit). It is our first time to attend the event. We like it so far," said Alicia Moody, director of admissions with the Hope International School, an exhibitor at the Expat Fair.
Mrs. Moody said that the Expat Fair helped her school get more business opportunities and that she could meet the families of potential students during the event. The Hope International School is interested in future business cooperation with the FCGroup, added Mrs. Moody.
"The Expat Fair gives us an opportunity to be known to more people," said an employee from another exhibitor, the Roundabout Charity Distribution Store, which offers free services to connect public donations to the people who need them.
After the one-day Expat Fair, the winners of the Expat Life Awards, which offer a chance for expatriates to recognize some of the great companies that make life easier and more comfortable for Beijing's foreigners, were announced at a ceremony on Sunday evening, with two awards for each industry - the Best Award and the Highly Recommended Award.
The award winners were selected by about 6,000 people, who gave their votes in an on-line voting system that was closed on September 5, according to Mr. Friedman.
"I want to make the next Expat Fair bigger and better, especially with an emphasis on the Expat Life Awards. I want all of Beijing to vote the best magazine, hospital…So next year, bigger and better," said Mr. Friedman.
The results of the Expat Life Awards were announced on September 21. The list of nominees and winners is here: http://fcgroup.org/1st-annual-ela-nominees