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Ugu South Coast Tourism’s initiative is aimed at creating a new approach between indigenous South African crafts and contemporary designs; as well as providing skills, employment and economic upliftment to rural communities. This is in recognition of the fact that beaded jewellery and related products have emerged as some of the growing markets in the world. Rural communities have been creating beadwork for centuries, however products need to evolve, as evidenced by the growing number of young entrepreneurs who run successful craft-based enterprises through the use of social media. Ugu South Coast Tourism is taking the intiative in acknowledgement of the shift in the craft industry by exposing crafters to the changes in the market distribution channels.
Ugu South Coast Tourism has established a one-stop shop that has opened opportunities to crafters for: • Warehousing • Quality, assurance • Handling, packaging and shipment • Establishing a wider market that is not limited by geographical boundaries • Understanding accounting business practices and procedures.
Crafters typically belong together as cooperatives, with each individual working from home, meeting once a week, fortnightly or, when there is an order for products to be generated. Most are self-taught, with skills passed from generation to generation. The majority are women. Very few of them see this as business opportunities, mostly working literary from hand to mouth. Through this approach, Ugu South Coast Tourism aims to change perceptions and mindset regarding crafts products; both from the producer and the buyer. Many of the transactions have been considered as ‘pity-purchases’ allowing for products to be sold sometimes at a loss by crafters, just so they can put food on the table. As a tourist destination, Ugu South Coast Tourism aims to inculcate the fact that culturally-based crafts have a market; both local and international. Programmes are continuously conducted regarding marketing, production management, customer service and so on.
It is envisaged that this approach would eventually yield opportunities that will result in: • The creation of sustainable business entities in the creative industries market. • Address unemployment by raising awareness of being employers rather then employees by the crafters. • Encourage a culture of pride, self esteem and independence within the craft communities. • Encourage a proactive and self-driven mindset within rural communities, instead of reliance on government programmes for survival.