Promoting sustainable creative entrepreneurship
Craft Afrika is set to host the annual Afrika Handmade Symposium and Gallery. The two week event launches on 30 September with special guest Hon. Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development, and runs until 16 October 2015 at Alliance Francaise, Nairobi.
A market development initiative of Craft Afrika, Afrika Handmade’s objective is to open up new market opportunities for contemporary artisan and design products within the local consumer base.
The initiative was developed in response to the deeply entrenched notion of what constitutes the sector. Mention the words ‘craft’ or ‘artisan’ and the first thing that comes to mind is the ubiquitous ‘maasai’ market.
With broad-brush strokes, the sector is depicted as  cheap and lacking intrinsic value  created for the tourist market  lacking product differentiation.
While this depiction may have some truth in it, there has been, over time, the emergence of a more contemporary genre; one that displays sophistication in style and detail and that answers to the exacting quality demands of a global clientele.
However, the entrenched and pervasive definition of the sector has denied this genre potential market opportunity, especially within Kenya’s growing middle class.
“We recognized this as a serious threat to the sustainability of creative enterprises within the sector and that is why we decided to create a platform that could create visibility and access to this genre,” says Christine Gitau, convener of Afrika Handmade.
The event comes at an opportune time, even as the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise development advocates for increased domestic consumption of locally manufactured goods and services through the Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy. “We knew it was the right time to begin influencing consumer tastes towards local design. The local market offers viable opportunities for any creative enterprise seeking sustainability, you just need to be proactive and make supply obvious.” she adds.
In order to deliver on the event’s objective, Afrika Handmade combines a three-in-one experience: a curated gallery, symposium and award ceremony, all geared towards creating visibility for contemporary artisan and design products.
Collaborating with over 15 designers and artisans sourced from all over Kenya, the two-week Gallery features textile printing from Nanyuki, Lighting solutions for Machakos, basketry from Kisumu, recycled storage products from Kajiado and much more.
A special feature of the Gallery is Design Network Africa or DNA, a Danish sponsored collective that congregates the finest designers from East and West Africa. The network will be represented by Adele Dejak, Bud Panesar, Sky Decor, Uganda Crafts and Matupo Pottery from Zimbabwe.
Running alongside the Gallery is the 2-day symposium on 1-2 October at the same venue. Registration is open to all entrepreneurs working within the sector and will present a great opportunity for networking and information exchange among various stakeholder groups.
Speakers including Mark Stephenson (MD, Sandstorm), Katungulu Mwendwa (fashion designer and owner MOFTI) and Zohra Baraka (chair, African Women Entrepreneurship Program) will speak on production models, maximizing on technology, AGOA and intellectual property rights session with Liz Lenjo (IP Lawyer- Kikao Law)
Curtains come down at Afrika Handmade on 17 October at a Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony honoring Alan Donovan and Elkana Ongesa, two of Kenya’s longest serving advocates of the sector.
About Craft Afrika
Founded in 2012, Craft Afrika is a social enterprise that identifies, creates and supports market access opportunities for contemporary artisan and design products, specifically within domestic and regional markets.
To learn more about us, visit www.craftafrika.org or call +254 717 488 565