What we do
The Africa Craft Trust enhances livelihood opportunities for craft artisans in three primary ways:
The guiding principles of Asset Based Community Development underwrites how the Africa Craft Trust works with craft artisans and supporting organisations.
“The instructors were responsible because they took us seriously and respected us…”
— Richard Mothubane, Richard’s Arts and Crafts, Welgewal, North West
Our product design and development draws on local and international expertise to develope craft products which appeal to local, regional and international buyers. As we work we are sensitive to local cultures and traditions and materials, endeavouring to incorporate these into products. Producers are collaborated with; the process of development enabling them to understand the underlying principles to create long term sustainability.
We are proud that the products of our collaborations with craft groups developed years earlier still feature in artisans offerings. There is often a unique take on products that kindles keen consumer interest.
Essential elements of the product development process include availability and ecological sustainability of raw materials and tools, skills enhancement as well as costing and pricing as part of what the market will accept and what the producers can afford in terms of their labour.
“The Trust must not go. It helps us greatly by increasing our orders and sales. We want to increase our relationship. We love them."
— Nolitha Sulelo from Masande, Mthatha, Eastern Cape
Our hands-on training programmes – in how to access markets, design better products or improve the skills and confidence of craft artisans – are tailored to produce practical and tangible results.
The Trust runs an Access Markets for Profit Program (AMP) in conjunction with a major trade-only gift show. Among other things, the AMP assists market-ready craft businesses to understand the dynamics of wholesale and retail markets, as well as giving access to potential buyers.
Other trainings take place in the field during workshops where Africa Craft Trust consultants and staff work directly with producers and their supporting organisations to look at business structures, production lines, product lists, marketing materials and customer relations, amongst other things. Working with producers on what is possible and the assets they have, training and skills transfers are tailored to the unique circumstances.
"The learning methodology [used] was very participatory [and] the facilitators were very excellent in giving more time to participants. The workshop was mainly covered by practical exercises. The workshop was not ‘another workshop’, it was really beneficial …"
— Matabbeki Mudenda, workshop participant, Binga Craft Centre, Zimbabwe
“A heartfelt thank you for the amazing few days we spent together — this course has allowed me to step out of my day to day, and look at my business from the outside in. I was able to meet and interact with other talented artisans, which sparked ideas and motivation to continue. The facilitators were approachable, kind and accommodating, taking special interest in the challenges of each very different individual participant. I’m renewed and excited to introduce new products and scout for additional sales channels.”
— Shingai Nyagweta, KuNa Kids, Johannesburg
Enhanced market accessibility
We strengthen craft artisans’ business and marketing capacities to meet local, regional and international market demands. A critical aspect of our work is to link artisans with markets, thereby generating greatly improved sales. Tailored marketing campaigns and exhibition at top trade shows enable us to create sustainable links between crafters and buyers. The Trust has built relations with artisans and crafters over years, maintaining linkages long after the programmes have concluded.
More than 80% of the craft artisans we work with are women. This is a deliberate aspect of our work. There is extensive research evidence that empowering women has a remarkable multiplier effect in terms of the improvements it helps bring about in women’s and children’s health and wellbeing, enhanced social capital and more resilient communities. We are proud that our work supports the empowerment of women.