Marketing opportunities and constraints of indigenous handcrafters in Izinqoleni, rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Dube, End-of-Joy Silindele.
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In many cases rural crafters have had only limited exposure to the market economy and have little understanding of how it works. If the crafters are unable to market their products, then their efforts in making craft items are being wasted. It was for this reason that this study was undertaken. The study focused on indigenous handcraft (beadwork, basketry and leatherwork) owing to the fact that these kinds of crafts are widely produced in the area of Izinqoleni. The purpose of this study was to investigate the marketing opportunities of indigenous handcrafts, and highlight problems faced by crafters in Izinqoleni. To accomplish this, the study had to describe the productive functioning of individuals and group producers of indigenous handcraft, find out about the kinds of craft items produced, and understand what was required to produce crafts in sufficient quantities and appropriate quality for markets. It also had to identify such suitable markets and describe the market places in relation to access, requirements, and potential for economic returns of crafters, to identify the gaps in the relationships between present production by crafters and marketing requirements, identify the constraints on crafters and markets, and recommend remedial actions that need to be taken. For this study, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and personal observations were employed to obtain information. The target population of this study comprised of the individuals and group crafters, craft traders (formal and informal traders such as art and craft galleries, craft shops, farm stalls, Tourism Information Centre, beach/road side craft sellers) as well as the buyers of indigenous handcrafts (schools and Shembe religious groups). Ten individual crafters, two craft groups, seven informal craft traders, four formal craft traders, two schools and two Shembe groups participated in this study. The findings of this study indicated that, despite the constraints facing the crafters in Izinqoleni; both the individual and group crafters had great potential for producing marketable products, although groups had better opportunities in term of exposure to markets and other requirements than individuals. There was not a big difference between the craft items that were produced by the crafters of Izinqoleni and those that were available at the local craft outlets. The traders, however, did not obtain their goods from local crafters; they depended on the distant crafters for supply of indigenous handcrafts. Therefore, they were very positive in creating strong relationships with the local crafters, provided they conformed to the requirements of these markets. It was therefore recommended that the crafters form cooperatives so that they could become recognized and then be supported in every possible way. The Government policies should consider indigenous handcraft as a major contributor to the economy, and promote indigenous handcraft production and marketing by providing sufficient support and services.
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