By Jana-Mari Smith
Join the Herd – And let’s look to Namibia first for unique, locally made products! – Shareen Thude | Manager – Namibia Craft Centre
The iconic Namibia Craft Centre, which has provided Namibians and international visitors with beautiful & funky crafts and art for the past 24 years, unveiled their new look this week.
“Spread the word!” was the call from Gida Sekandi, Chairperson of the Namibia Craft Centre board – a non-profit organisation committed to extending a helping hands to artists and crafts entrepreneurs from across Namibia.
For more than two decades, the Namibia Craft Centre has provided a professional retail platform to Namibian arts and craft entrepreneurs, many of them women from struggling rural communities who otherwise would have struggled to find a space to show of their skills.
The upgrade of the Namibia Craft Centre, including a brand new website and external and internal signage, is part of a project called “Destination Branding for Namibian Handicrafts”, funded by the Embassy of Finland through its development funding instrument, Fund for Local Cooperation.
The Finnish fund is aimed specifically at the kind of women who have made the Craft Center their second home.
The Finish embassy embarked on the Namibia Craft Centre upgrade project, with the goal of empowering “women to participate confidently on an international level by increasing sales and networking opportunities through production of handicraft, which is fit for various markets”.
The main objective of the Namibia Craft Centre project was to upgrade and re-brand each shop in the centre in order to strengthen the unique positioning of the individual business owners, to develop an interactive website that will serve as a primary marketing tool and to strengthen the capacity of business owners through training in sales, marketing, finance and product development.
The website provides visitors with the chance to browse through the products offered by the 38 stalls – and provides online shopping opportunities.
Of the 38 individual stalls, more than 40 women have attended eight different courses.
In her talk at the official launch of the Namibia Craft Centre launch, Anne Saloranta, Ambassador from the Embassy of Finland ot Namibia noted that she is personally a loyal customer at the Namibia Craft Centre.
She explained that as a customer who first discovered the craft centre in the early 90’s, “I have had the privilege to follow and witness the transformation of the centre from modest beginnings to a much larger venue hosting a variety of shops and displaying lots of products. As a customer, I always look for something new …”.
Saloranta took the opportunity to offer a few points of advice to the stall owners and their staff
She concluded by noting that the Namibia Craft Centre provides an ideal opportunity for local craft entrepreneurs to increase trade and production capacity of Namibian artists and craft makers.
“We are pleased to support the Craft Centre in their efforts to enhance sustainable development and promote the rights of the most vulnerable groups. We are equally happy to support the local efforts towards creating decent jobs and new employment opportunities”.