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SA crafters a hit in India

Written by *Bongani Lukhele

International relations

Thirty-three South African business people in the arts and crafts sector got an opportunity to showcase their products to the international market.

They participated in the 32nd India Inter- national Trade Fair (IITF) held in New Delhi, India recently.

The group’s participation in the internationally acclaimed exhibition was made possible by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), through its Export Marketing and Investment Assistance.

The scheme is aimed at developing export markets for South African products and services and recruiting new foreign direct investment into the country.

The IITF is one of the largest integrated trade fairs of exhibitor and visitor participation, targeting both trade visitors and the public. Participants were given the chance to showcase their products and services, which included leather, textiles, handicrafts, jewellery, furniture and furnishings. More than 7 000 exhibitors from across the world participated in the fair.

dti Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said the crafters the department selected had the opportunity to market and showcase their products on a world stage.

South Africa first participated in the IITF in 2008 and the positive feedback encouraged the dti to send more business people to display their products and market them internationally. The crafters were identified at the South African Handmade Collection, a unique and proudly South African craft brand that promotes South African handmade products nationally and internationally. The group pro- motes emerging craft enterprises, especially those from rural areas.

South African crafts proved to be a great hit with the international market with products flying off the shelves within minutes of the exhibition beginning. Almost all the local crafters recorded unexpectedly high volumes of sales.

One of them was Julia Kunstler from Johannesburg. “The first stock of products I packed was sold out on the first day and I had to pack more. I brought 30 boxes of hand-painted ceramic products weighing 500kg. My dinner sets were the most popular with the people who are visiting my stand,” she said.

Cilo Mdagane of Sebokeng, Gauteng said four of his most expensive classic wire cars were sold in the first two days. To make sure that he didn’t run out of stock, he worked through the night to create more beaded wire cars and lizards.

On the very first day of the IITF a business- man walked up to KwaZulu-Natal’s Jabulani Mhlambini’s stand and bought a sizeable number of ceramic dishes, bowls and trays.

Grace Ngobeni of Limpopo said her traditional beaded dolls, necklaces and bags caught the imagination of visitors who cleaned out her first batch of stock. “Fortunately, I brought enough stock and managed to replenish my stand regularly,” said Ngobeni.

Aaron Ndaba of Riverlea, Gauteng also tasted success, selling 75 of his pendants, which were made of polyester thread in the first two days of the exhibition. “I have also been fortunate that instead of worrying about returning home with unsold stock, I clinched a deal with one of the visitors who came here on the penultimate day of the fair and bought all of the stock that was left,” said Ndaba.

The South African exhibitors said they were happy to make good sales at the exhibition even though their major objective was to get big, long-term orders. This would enable them to create jobs for people who would be required to service the orders.

* Bongani Lukhele works for the dti.