In what is seen to be a major boost to the tourism and creative industries, the creative works of more than 80 craft enterprises drawn from throughout the Eastern Cape have found a new home at the newly-launched Eastern Cape Craft Collection store in Nahoon, East London on Friday.
The store which came at an investment of R1,238 million, was officially launched by the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Elizabeth Thabethe, MP. The store will play host to exquisite authentically Eastern Cape creative design pieces which underwent the Eastern Cape Development Corporation’s (ECDC) rigorous selection process.
On show are ceramic works, home textiles such as cushions, tableware, traditional ware, fashion accessories such as bags, necklaces, carpets, toys, leatherworks, traditional and contemporary clothing, woodwork and wire works among others. An ECDC initiative supported by the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), the Eastern Cape Craft Collection aims to provide a sustainable market for locally made products.
“While small enterprises have the potential to generate economic growth, this does not always happen spontaneously. It is the task of a differentiated, sector-focused and growth-orientated small business-support strategy to address obstacles that prevent small enterprises from being successful,” Deputy Minister Thabethe said.
ECDC senior manager for enterprise development Mpumi Fundam says the launch of the Eastern Cape Craft Collection store is in response to a growing need from craft customers to access a central point to buy products of Eastern Cape craft enterprises.
“Usually crafters are only able to sell their products at ad hoc exhibitions and shows with assistance from agencies such as ECDC and the DSBD. The setting up of the shop allows crafters to market their products while it also acts as an intermediary between buyers and the producers for large orders. The shop should act as a communication channel between crafters and the market.
“The 80 enterprises whose products are now for sale at the store were chosen from ECDCs craft enterprises database which has more than 400 creative industry producers. Following a roadshow throughout the province, ECDC selected the products which it felt have consumer demand. ECDC looked at the quality of the product, market appeal as well as the representation of the Eastern Cape in the product,” explains Fundam.
Fundam says ECDC is delighted that the Department of Small Business Development pumped in R1,238 million which will go toward the establishment of the shop as well as equipment and the appointment of an operator for the first year. A management company with retail experience has been appointed to operate the store.
“The shelf life of a product at the store depends on market responsiveness. If there is no interest from customers, the product will be replaced. The shop will facilitate big orders with the concerned crafter and all profits will go to the enterprise.
“We will use the shop as a base for temporary pop-up shops at busy peak periods such as Christmas and Easters. We will use the products at the store at exhibitions as well. In a year, we want to have products from 150 enterprises at the store,” explains Fundam.
He says the store is a timely intervention in the absence of a store that takes the products of Eastern Cape creative to the market. However, it is intended that with time, ECDC and the department will pull out of the store and hand over its running to a private operator.
Deputy Minister Thabethe indicated that out of the 80 enterprises selected, 80% are women-owned, 95% are black-owned and 30% are wholly youth-owned. A total of 65% are from rural towns and villages, and 30% from metros. Of the 30% from metros, 90% are from townships in in line with our objective of support township economies. These numbers affirm our commitment as government to support and create an enabling environment for the growth and development SMMEs and Cooperatives in the Creative Industries” said Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe, MP.
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