Mentoring craftpreneurs to build stable businesses
Posted Thursday, July 12 2012 at 19:48
After four years of running her Beauty for Ashes pottery business, Christine Gitau wondered what next.
Is there career-growth in the craft business? She had reached a point where she felt that her new mission was to support craftpreneurs build sustainable businesses.
“With all the knowledge and practical know-how that I have gathered over the years, as a buyer and a maker, I can now find a way to support and spread that knowledge which Craft Afrika is all about,” she says.
Ms Gitau registered Craft Afrika (CA) as a social enterprise that seeks to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing in the craft business.
The unwillingness to share information made her miss craft fairs, funding opportunities, and workshops.
“Being a crafter, I experienced this repeatedly; I realised that if I was facing this challenge there were hundreds of others in the same boat. Hence, the idea of forming Craft Afrika,” she says.
Time has taught her that information sharing is social based and therefore those who have will continue to get more as those who do not continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
“I realised that people were not sharing information, but I was determined that if I ever get a platform to do so I would not only commit to researching for information, but sharing it to as wide an audience as possible,” she says.
“Now, if you go to the Craft Afrika Facebook page you will get all the craft fairs.”
The CA blog, craftafrika.org, carries practical advice on technical related aspects of running a craft enterprise such as marketing, pricing, selling at craft fairs, etc. The new crop of craft makers is both ambitious and exposed.
They are tech savvy and likely to look for information that will assist them start or grow their businesses on the web.
The social enterprise targets the young, urban and emerging craftpreneurs. Craft Afrika’s long-term plan is to set up a craft hub where craftpreneurs can secure subsidised rental space, benefit from business mentorship, network and collaborate with other stakeholders in the industry.
Ms Gitau is convinced that the collaboration will not only be in terms of projects, but between crafters and suppliers, lawyers, export and imports experts; people who form auxiliary partners.
“We therefore work around the clock sourcing information relevant to running successful craft businesses. Dissemination of information and knowledge, giving of our experience and resources and mentoring though various business stages, these are core aspects of our work,” says Ms Gitau.
To be different from other craft associations, CA seeks to engage with a wide spectrum of craftpreneurs and reach out to those who may be outside social circles that control information.