Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hos ‘Afrika Handmade’ : 2-Day Symposium On Contemporary Craft And Design by Craft Africa

Craft Afrika will on 2nd and 3rd October 2014 at the Jacaranda Hotel, Nairobi, convene Afrika Handmade, a 2 day event that will focus on contemporary craft and design produced in Kenya.

Registered as a social enterprise in Kenya, Craft Afrika is involved in creating opportunities that enable viable, dynamic craft and design enterprises. In this regard, Craft Afrika was set up to address gaps in two specific areas: knowledge sharing [including business and technical skills training as well as mentorship] and market development [including market access].

The Afrika Handmade symposium is a strategic activity under Craft Afrika’s market development program, which seeks to create markets for locally produced handmade goods. The objective of the symposium therefore, is to generate visibility for the contemporary craft and design sector, thereby opening up new market opportunities, especially at the domestic and regional level.

This is the first edition of Afrika Handmade.

One of the biggest challenges facing contemporary craft and design entrepreneurs is accessing profitable and sustainable markets. This challenge is caused partly by the fact that a large portion of the potential target market is unaware of the existence of a more innovative genre of craft. Indeed, mention the word ‘craft’ and for most people, the association is with the ‘maasai’ market, often characterised by cheap, mass produced souvenirs and curios.

Furthermore, a Fashion and Lifestyle research commissioned by Kiko Romeo and conducted by Ipsos Synovate in 2013, offered a glimpse of the potential that lies latent due to lack of information on local designers. For example, from a sample group of 656 interviewees, 65% said that they were not aware of local brands or the designers behind them. Afrika Handmade is therefore an advocacy effort to create an awareness of these creative entrepreneurs and their brands. It is envisioned that through continuous advocacy efforts, new market opportunities will be created and existing ones will be strengthened, leading to viable enterprises and sustainable youth employment in Kenya.

A dynamic array of speakers from public and private sector, academia and craft entrepreneurs have confirmed participation. Top designers such as Mark Stephenson from Sandstorm, Nalina Rupani from Adelphi and Sam Imende from ENZI Footwear will be present to share insights on craft entrepreneurship. Government agencies including Kenya Copyright Board [KECOBO], Export Promotion Council [EPC] and Export Processing Zones Authority [EPZA] will be represented by Catherine Kahuria, Evelyn Noah and Ruth Mwaniki respectively.

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