Craft Enterprise Development and Market Facilitation
Since 2009 Africa!Ignite has operated a capacity-building and market access service for rural craft entrepreneurs, driven by ethical trading in the craft sector. The value of the craft sector nationally is estimated to be approximately R2 billion; however, the industry is highly fragmented and the majority of craft entrepreneurs are sole traders or small, informal producer groups or co-operatives, often in deep rural areas, with limited access to and knowledge of markets.
For rural crafters, who are mostly women supporting children and families, to earn a sustainable income from their craft and improve their lives, access to skills, information and market opportunities is key. In this context, Africa!Ignite operates this social enterprise in order to:
- Provide capacity-building support to rural crafters in KZN, providing them with information, knowledge and skills to increase their resilience, power, visibility and access to opportunities
- Provide an ongoing market access service to rural crafters so that they can earn a sustainable income from their craft
Craft Market Access Service
Africa!Ignite has actively traded in craft products since 2009 in a range of market channels, including export and local wholesale markets and retail. Africa!Ignite is a Provisional Member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO ID number 987) and we uphold the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as prescribed by WFTO in our day-to-day work. For more information please visit http://www.wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade
We develop, market and sell an extensive and constantly growing range of craft products into these market channels and continually invest resources in marketing and sales opportunities including local and international trade fairs.
Success and Achievements
The success of our rural craft enterprise development programmes can be measured in a number of ways:
Firstly, in the value of income paid to rural craft entrepreneurs in our networks. Since 2010 we have paid more than R6 million in income to crafters for orders facilitated on their behalves.
Secondly, in the numbers of crafters who have received both formal workshop-based training and non-formal experiential learning through our programmes. Since Africa!Ignite began formally tracking our training interventions in a central tracking database in early 2014, more than 50 formal training workshops have been conducted and more than 200 individual crafters have received formal training at these workshops. In addition, many crafters have benefited from non-formal experiential learning through the production of orders brought through Africa!Ignite’s market facilitation service, an experience which is empowering and can have a long lasting impact on personal growth for beneficiaries.
Thirdly, Africa!Ignite has been recognised for our success in growing market access for rural craft entrepreneurs through ongoing partnership relationships with core donor funding partners. In addition, Africa!Ignite was the 2011 winner of the Transnet / Durban Chamber of Commerce Emerging Exporter of the Year award, in 2012 we were the runner-up in the Small Exporter of the Year category and in 2016 we were the winner in the Creative Industries category. These awards are valuable industry recognition for the market access value that Africa!Ignite creates through its craft enterprise development programmes. And in 2015 Africa!Ignite was one of four runners-up for the ONE Africa Award, for our international partnership campaign Shake the World, an advocacy campaign in support of the Millennium Development Goals driven by sales of handmade beaded bracelets produced by crafters supported by Africa!Ignite.