Big business starts small
Establishing employment opportunities in rural environments is fundamental to the economic empowerment of rural communities and traditionally Africa Foundation has achieved this by supporting the development of a network of Artisan Contractors within the communities associated with our conservation areas, and the employment of local community members through these contractors. Furthermore, intern-based work placements have provided for local youth.
Enterprise development snapshot
Small opportunities are often the beginning of great achievements.
Our enterprise development portfolio
Creating and selling crafts and jewellery for tourists visiting nearby conservation areas, is a popular income generating opportunity for people living in rural communities. Despite skill and determination however, often the crafters have limited success in achieving consistent sales and a sustainable income. Africa Foundation supports crafters to develop not only their product quality and range but also their financial and business literacy and facilitate infrastructure development to attract a variety of customers.
We help to improve productivity and access to markets for local farmers. Agriculture is the basis of the livelihood of most rural families. However, due to lack of equipment, expertise and access to markets, production rates and profits are sub-optimal for many farmers. Africa Foundation supports smallholder farms with improved access to water and irrigation, farming equipment, shading infrastructure and linkages to potential buyers. In doing so, we improve the farmers income and capacity to employ others as their production increases.
We help to increase business skills and employability of local entrepreneurs. Our local contractor programme provides tailored mentorship for artisans working in rural communities. After a needs assessment, training and experience opportunities are provided, including access to skills certifications. In addition, contractors are assisted with their business compliance documentation. Through this programme, contractors are up-skilled and able to secure more work, and work of higher value. They also create jobs as their business expands.
Adapting to change
When Africa Foundation started with the Artisans and Crafters (ACA) Programme (an AGOFE 10KJ initiative) in January 2018, it was based on a traditional “crafters-at-craft-markets” model. These markets work very well when they’re correctly positioned and there is a regular flow of tourists but Covid disrupted this model. So the Crafters and project team pivoted to explore alternative income models:
Sewing machines and training in their use were funded to support the production of masks and shopping bags by the crafters. This was complemented by the development of the Lala Africa digital marketing and sales platform and the sourcing of bulk mask orders. To-date over 40,000 masks and 5,000 bags have been ordered.
The net outcome of these interventions has been that the crafters have been able to extend their comfort zone beyond their tourism-based craft entrepreneurship, with a long term view of earning a living wage in excess of the South African minimum wage (>R 4 000 per month).
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