Impumelelo - The Stellenbosch Academy for Social Innovation

Marrying Artistic Craft with Entrepreneurship

According to the Department of Labour, commercial craft-making contributes an estimated R2 billion to the economy annually. As this sector provides a gateway into the mainstream economy, the commercial craft-making sector can be an important catalyst for increasing the rate of employment by getting creative people to think more entrepreneurially.

The Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) was established in 2001 to facilitate this progression. CCDI supports business development in the craft-making sector as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for established and emerging craft producers in the Western Cape. Their mentorship, training, product support and network facilitation cultivates both the artistic talents and business skills of craft producers.

CCDI is the first arts development model of its kind in South Africa. Its growth from a two-man operation working in an office with 63 craft producers to an institution that today employs 28 people and occupies a three-floor building is impressive. The 2 500 enterprises which CCDI works with include small businesses from poor areas around the province and leading designers who sell their products regularly at international trade and consumer shows. The CCDI Rural Outreach Programme extends to the West Coast, Winelands, Overberg, Central Karoo and Eden regions to ensure rural craft producers gain access to CCDI services. Up to 40% of CCDI crafters are from these regions.

Craft producers attend group workshops and one-on-one mentorship sessions that address all phases of the creative and business process. CCDI reports that artists occupied 5 127 places on their business administration or creativity workshops since 2002 with 1 664 training opportunities accessed from 2010 to 2011. The launch of a dedicated training unit for CCDI last year is set to increase this footprint.

Artists are also supported through the critical product development phase. The computer-aided design and manufacturing environment of the Product Support Space at the CCDI headquarters also makes available research and information technology facilities. Craft producers have taken up approximately 979 opportunities for this kind of support. The Product Support Space recorded more than 8 000 visits and some 146 enterprises benefited from CCDI mentoring support in the past decade.

Additionally, craft producers are exposed to the relevant networking and marketing opportunities to expose more potential buyers to their products. The annual CCDI Handmade Collection exhibition for example showcases their craft producers’ best design and craft items. CCDI artists have occupied over 2 700 places at 169 trade and consumer shows. The organisation has won 28 awards at these events for both financial turnover and the stylish appearance of its stands.

CCDI has helped facilitate nearly R17 million in products sales for Western Cape artists since its inception. Even within its first five years of operation, 37% of craft producers moved from home-based production to a formal workplace. More than 80% on average reported a better understanding of markets or experienced increased access to them. Over 70% would not accept regular equivalent paying jobs in place of their craft work, which demonstrates the entrepreneurial focus amongst CCDI artists.

CCDI is an ideal marriage between the developmental and the artistic as a testament to the potential of creative industries to foster entrepreneurial spirit and generate employment for more people in South Africa!

Implemented an idea that South Africa can learn from? Apply to the Impumelelo Awards before 29 June! Visit impumelelo.org.za

Rhoda Kadalie – Executive Director
Candice Jansen – Media Officer

Published in The Citizen

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