Story: Crafting for success

25 mai 2021
ITC News
Training unlocks the potential of Uganda’s handicrafts sector.

Basketry, textiles, ceramics, wood carpentry, horn products, barkcloth, tailoring, handmade paper, beadwork and embroidery are some of the skills that make up the wealth of the Ugandan craft sector. This rich mosaic of craftsmanship underlines the huge potential for the Ugandan tourism and creative industry alike.

Many Ugandan craft businesses have a strong skill base when it comes to production and basic business operations, yet they are stalling when it comes to design, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Expanding the network

Earlier this year, under the aegis of the Handicraft Souvenir and Development Project, the International Trade Centre held a handicraft entrepreneurship training in Kampala. The training  addressed the business needs of the 25 participating Ugandan craft professionals over three days.

Five new-generation trainers used a conference-model to deliver workshops on key skills for creative businesses: moodboards, smartphone photography, product design, logos, branding, sustainability, trends and entrepreneurship.

Participants ventured for the first time on Instagram, a key platform for making business connections and telling their story.

The product is key

The Design without Borders team took the first steps towards demystifying the creative design process through their hands-on product design workshop. Guided by a step-by-step design process, participants worked in groups to develop and present a new craft product.

Get the message out!

Communication is fundamental to building a network of clients, vendors, suppliers and partners.

Giving tips on harnessing social media outreach for business growth, Nunu of the Bold in Africa concept store demonstrated ways to showcase the value of products and tell the rich stories behind them.

Graphic designer Paul Zana encouraged craft producers to understand the conscious effort required to create a meaningful brand experience.

“Conducting the training is an honour and a vindication of how much work needs to be done, in the spectrum of businesses and brands,” he said after the training.

Several businesses have already joined Instagram following the training and are actively posting content.

The future

The participating craft professionals left the training with a bolder vision for the Ugandan craft sector – a centre for crafts, an annual craft exhibit and a craft cooperative to guide the future of the sector and its connections to tourism and the creative industry.

This training provided a space for learning, reflection and exchange.

Trainer Nunu Mugyenyi shared that follow-up meetings were planned with four of the participating craft businesses. There is immense power in building a strong local foundation which can be used as a trampoline to more regional and international business opportunities.

The training team included Gloria Wavamunno, founder of Kampala Fashion Week and accessories brand GWAVAH; Lawrence J. Okoth and his team from Design without Borders; Nunu Mugyenyi of the Bold in Africa retailer; graphic designer and founder of Sweep Collective, Paul Zana; and Sarah Nakisanze, professor and founder of Easy Afric Designs.