I’ve recently come across a very interesting company called ‘Design Africa’. This project was initially funded by CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and the original purpose was to develop a market for the designs of talented artisans in specific African countries. Have a look at their web site: http://www.designafrica.ca/designafrica/index.php to see their brochure and several short videos which give an idea of some specific projects.
The countries which are participating in the project are: Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, South Africa and Senegal. Although most of the participants produce textiles and baskets, there are also furniture, wood and ceramic artisans.
Through CIDA and the Federal Trade Facilitation Office in Canada, these products are brought to the attention of importers and retailers, guiding the businesses through the maze of regulations to reach overseas markets. The high quality of their designs will hopefully place their creations on a different level, where they will not be supplanted by copies from Asian countries. These small businesses employ those whose options are otherwise very limited, and have had a relatively dramatic effect on the numbers employed and the amount they are paid per hour. Some of their products are found at the shops of Ten Thousand Villages.
The 2008 Design Africa presentation will be held in Canada in two locations: at the Montreal Interior Design Show at Place Bonaventure, 22 - 24 May, and in Toronto at The Richmond, 477 Richmond St. West, #104, 27 & 28 May. Further information is available from the Trade Facilitation Office Canada in Ottawa: toll-free: 1-800-267-9674.