At a showcase event just held in Lusaka, the Private Enterprise Programme Zambia (PEPZ) has unveiled new collections and designs from 25 handicrafts artisan groups from Western, Eastern, Southern, Central and Lusaka Provinces. The crafts represented include jewellery, baskets, ceramics, bags, wood, toys and models, candles, soaps and home textiles.
This Showcase was held in advance of the arrival over the coming few weeks of several international wholesale buyers who have been encouraged to visit with a view to establishing purchasing links with Zambian artisans. It was also attended by buyers from hotels, lodges and other tourist destinations within Zambia.
The new export and tourism-oriented designs and collections were developed with the direct assistance of a group of specialists in design for international markets headed by Elaine Bellezza of Bellezza Global Consulting. Ms Bellezza has 25 years’ experience of
working with handcraft artisans in Africa, helping them achieve sustainable sales in both domestic and export markets. Speaking at the Zambian Crafts Showcase about the ability of Zambia to compete in the $40 billion international handicrafts market, Ms Bellezza spoke about the strong position that Zambia is in, with a range of products that could be attractive to buyers. She declared that handicrafts should be taken seriously as a manufacturing sector in its own right. “The first and most important thing we have to do is change our attitude. We have to start thinking of this sector as a consumer goods industry with enormous potential”, she commented.
UKaid, through PEPZ, is supporting the current project to assist artisans to make products suitable for target markets and facilitate links with appropriate buyers. Head of the UKaid office in Zambia, Mark Richardson, took up the theme reflecting that “Zambian handicrafts offer a profitable business growth opportunity. Requiring only simple tools and local raw materials, crafts offer artisans a positive way to increase incomes through use of their skills”.
Mr Tobias Tembo, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Arts who was guest of honour at the Handicrafts Showcase, spent a considerable time visiting the exhibitors and examining the new designs and collections on display. Speaking about the initiative to develop export potential for Zambian crafts, Mr Tembo stated that the Government “is fully behind this exciting opportunity especially through the National Arts Council, the National Museums Board and the Zambian Development Agency who have been party to the project from the very beginning”.