Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Protection of Craft Products Embodied in Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa

Written By

Abisuga Oluwayemisi Adebola

Submitted: 19 August 2020 Reviewed: 18 September 2020 Published: 22 October 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.94111

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Sustainable Organizations - Models, Applications, and New Perspectives

Edited by Jose C. Sánchez-García and Brizeida Hernández-Sánchez

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The Culture and Creative industries are commonly recognised as one of the strategic sectors. This sector has the potential for innovation and development which may lead to economic growth of a nation. Even though the culture and creative industries (CCIs) is the focus of several studies, precise consideration has not been given to the craft sectors as an essential component of the South African industrial development. The objective of this research is to identify the problems faced by crafts sectors, and to address those issues by providing policy intervention towards protection and sustainability of the sector. Also, the position of craft has been widely acknowledged, but the research regarding the protection of craft products is scarce. This gives rise to the research question: how can the crafts sectors be protected towards the sustainability and development of these sectors? This study provides an overview of the concept of craft and the CCIs focusing on the craft production and marketing activities. For this study, a qualitative research was conducted using a secondary data, and conducting an in-depth interview with crafters in the city of Durban South Africa. The results established some basic issues that need an urgent intervention towards the preservation of the craft sector in South Africa.


  • craft
  • cultural industries
  • creative industries
  • entrepreneur
  • sustainability

1. Introduction

The craft sector’s potential for job creation is one of the main attractions of this sector. Buschfeld Dilger and Heb [1] also has shown that craft business is a significant creator of jobs and the improve livelihood in all Sub-Saharan African countries including South Africa. It does not only generate income for groups or individual which have access to resources, but also offers employment opportunities to the underprivileged people in South Africa. Many South African rural areas have a low literacy rate, and low level of education, but have artistic skills [2]. These underprivileged people could survive through artistic or natural crafting skills, if the industry is well established. Hence, the craft sector is one of the few entry opportunities available to South Africans currently exempted from the formal economy. Alexander [3] has shown that promoting the craft sector is a key strategy of alleviating poverty in communities that need liberation from economic deprivation. Even though, the position of craft sector has been known long before, but in Africa this sector has experienced many challenges such as innovation, globalisation and industrialisation [4], therefore, the artisans were unable to compete with well-ordered industrial division and had to market their products at lower cost [5]. Consequently, the craft product is threatened, and this sector requires attention to protect the knowledge, heritage, and inherited skills. Nevertheless, it is very important to intensely understand and discuss the challenges confronted by the craft sectors, so as to protect traditions and heritage, failure to do this can make heritage disappear in the near future.

The position crafts represented in cultural and creative products are of a different nature, that cut-across all the components in the classifications of CCIs. Therefore, the strategic agenda to facilitate the crafts entrepreneurs needs to be set down, so that this sector can effectively function as a national CCI, enhancing the import, export and local trade of craft products [6]. This research argued that an inclusive intervention and approach should be engaged to support craft entrepreneurs through the entire CCIs, so as to strengthen both producers and marketers, and improving their products to protect the sector. The research is qualitative using a secondary data and structured interviews to better provide an answer to the question; how can the crafts sectors be protected towards the sustainability and development of these sectors? This study specially focuses on the craft sectors to quantify the trade activities of the sectors within the statistical core of the culture and creative industries as defined by the United Nations for Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The study comprehends the exact depth of the craft industry in the cultural and creative industry trade activities of South Africa with selected countries. The results and policy intervention provided in this study will be helpful to the researchers, policy and decision makers in the government or other interested stakeholders to improve, infrastructure, support measures and policies towards the protection and sustainability of the craft sectors.


2. The concept of cultural and creative industries

The concept of creative Industry is a term that was initiated in the 1990s. Today, many ideas have been provided as to what the Creative Industries consist of. Nevertheless, there has been no specific definition as many debates surrounding this term. The diversity in definitions of creative industry is linked to the associated terms such as Cultural Economics, Creative Economy, and Cultural Industries which are most difficult to define. However, the scope of the creative economy is determined by the level of the creative industries [6]. “Creative Industry” is a term initiated in the early 1990s. Today, the definition is broadened encompassing many ideas and definitions. Nevertheless, there has been no single definition as there are many debates surrounding this term. Many a time’s creative industries are linked or associated with the terms such as ‘Cultural Economics’, ‘Creative Economy’, and ‘Cultural Industries’. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Moreover, the scope of the creative economy is determined by the level of the creative industries.

2.1 Cultural industries

Jodhpur initiatives [7], provided the following framework for cultural industries, from a long-term interagency support programme for the promotion of cultural industries in the Asia-Pacific region, as a means of strategy for poverty reduction and community regeneration:

“Those industries which produce tangible or intangible artistic and creative outputs, and which have a potential for wealth creation and income generation through the exploitation of cultural assets and the production of knowledge-based goods and services (both traditional and contemporary). Cultural industries have in common their application of creativity, cultural knowledge and intellectual property to manufacture products and provide services with social and cultural meaning.”

The European Parliament according to its resolution [2002/2127 (INI)], described the Cultural Industries as one in which emphasis is given to the active relationship between culture and the production of cultural goods and services, national economic development, and employment and training rendered at the national, regional and local levels.

2.2 Creative industries

According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport UK., Creative Industries are defined as; those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent with the potential for wealth and job creation via the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.

Although, there are many models and definitions have been presented to the logical understanding of the important characteristics of the Creative Industries. This study adopts the UNCTAD classification of Creative Industries. The Creative Industries is divided into four categories: Heritage, arts, media, and functional creations. These groups are further divided into nine sub-groups, as presented in the Table 1 below.

Arts craftsCulturalAudio visualsPublishingDesignNew mediaCreative servicesPerforming artsVisual Arts
CarpetsArchaeology sitesFilmBooksArchitectural drawingsRecorded mediaArchitectureMusical instrumentsAntiques
CelebrationMuseumCDs, DVDs, tapesNewspaperFashion and fashion accessoriesVideo gamesCultural and recreationLive musicPainting
Other art craftsLibrariesOther printed matterGlasswareSoft waresCreative R&DTheatrePhotography
PaperwareFestivalsInterior designAdvertisingDanceSculpture
Yarn and fabricsToys

Table 1.

Categories of creative industries goods and services.

2.3 Craft

The term craft covers a wide collection of artefacts. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) [8] define this type of informal sector as “….segment of economic activity characterised by certain attributes like dependence on local accessible resources and skills, small scale businesses, traditional technology, unregulated and competitive markets skills commonly attained outside the formal school system, family business, and labour intensity”. Abisuga-Oyekunle and Fillis [9] gives one of paramount definition of crafts as: craft products are those created by artisans, neither fully in hand, by mechanical means or even with the assistance of simple hand tools, provided the direct contribution of manual dexterity of the artisan is retained as the most significant element of the finished product. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport mapping document (1998) describes the craft as comprising the groups in the Table 2 below.

Core activitiesRelated activitiesRelated industries
TextilesRaw materialsDesign
Ceramics• Clay FashionFashion
Jewellery/silver• Timber ArtArt
Metal• Tools & machineryAntiques
GlassCraft fairs
Craft magazines

Table 2.

Description of craft.


3. Groupings craft producers in South Africa

The South African Department of Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture grouped craft producers as hand-manufacturing enterprises and small-batch producers. The small-batch producers comprise of craft artist, start-up, and emerging enterprises, these are informal enterprises that are survivalist in existence [10]. The established and exporter enterprises give more consideration to the marketing than the small-batch craft producers. They have a marketing strategy, product brand, improve brochures, develop a website, and creates a catalogue, and also produced a package for their products. The case of with the craft artist, small or emerging producers, and micro-enterprises. Evidence shows that craft producers also use various types of distribution channels [11]. The craft artist is open to both the local and international market, selling through galleries and top retailers while the small-batch and emerging craft producers sell within their own communities through direct sales. The established and exporter enterprises have permanent premises for their business activities, while the start-up and emerging manufacturers still undertake production from home. According to Frazer [12], the craft-artist carried out production from a private studio. Also, only the established and exporter, manufacturers produce a quality product that meets the export requirements at ease, while the start-up manufacturers and emerging producers do not meet the required product quality [10]. This study targets all types of craft enterprises with the aim to discover their structures how they behave in terms of their operation, the economic prospect of crafts products and their development requirements.

3.1 The craft production and marketing

In South Africa, the craft producers and marketers are largely black women. Mostly, they are middle-aged women and are the main economic providers in the family. The men involved in craft control in the woodcarving, painting etc. sub-sector of the industry, whereas women dominate in the production of clay pottery, quilting and sewing, embroidery, woven baskets and grass products, mural painting etc., this is as a result of substantial differences in education levels amongst the producers (UNIDO [13]). However, Yang et al. [14] in their study on preservation of cultural heritage and traditional crafts reveals that there are signs that increasing numbers of men are starting to participate in the production of traditional craft as a result of few employment opportunities available to them. Also, several workers are returning from city centres as they are retrenched and cannot get new employment, this could prove to be a source, securing more producers of craft products [15].

In many African nations, the local markets are being oversupplied with mass-produced and cheap goods from the East, which most times end up substituting locally produced goods. This is contrary to the creation of job opportunities and to the sustainability of local traditional production. This has an extremely negative effect on some producers of such items, which directly affects the tourist revenue that is encouraging and developing local production [16]. Nevertheless, product development must be an uninterrupted exercise that makes sure that innovation and creativity are the first concern. As a result of the variety of craft products, craft producers should understand and note the trends affecting different types of products they produce [17]. For instance, retail markets like the decoration and fashion that are markets were driven that need continuous change.

According to Hay [18] retailers are the market creators, able to source for new products and likewise developers of new products. The retailers communicate with the craft producers to guarantee quality control measures and make sure that product development and innovation is up to standard (Urban-Economic [19]). A study conducted by Department of Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture [10] amongst the craft producers in Gauteng, discovered that the producers go through difficulties selling to craft retailers because they only purchase 36% crafts produced in South Africa. The Wesgro [20] also confirmed in its study that craft producers only have little access to craft retail markets as a result of competition from imported craft products which are more superior to the locally produced ones.

Figure 1 below (by Frost & Sullivan and Makhitha [17, 21]), shows a summary of three major chains of which products move from the producers to the final consumer.

  1. The producer → final consumer (the major actor in this type of distribution is the producer as he is the only actor).

  2. The producer → marketing organisation → craft dealer →end customer (The major actor here is the marketing organisation, because they source for markets for the products).

  3. The producer (in rural areas) → intermediary trader/distributor/wholesaler (distributors to towns) → craft trader →final consumer (The major actor is the retailer because he is the one who knows the customers’ needs, therefore, guarantee that the products are made in accordance with the customers’ demand).

Figure 1.

Marketing channels for craft producers in South Africa. Source: Adapted from [17, 21].


4. Methodology

4.1 Designs

The design of this research is descriptive using a qualitative method of data collection and analyses. The sampling frame is handicraft entrepreneurs operating in the city of Durban of KwaZulu-Natal Province. The gateway to Zulu Kingdom is Durban, an active, cultured cosmopolitan port city and top holiday destination well-known for its beaches and wide-ranging mix of cultures which form a unique assortment of western, eastern, and African influences. The City of Durban is historically and economically quite significant as it has been the port of entry of tourist and traders for thousands of years. Handicrafts reflect the city region’s cultural mix. Many markets in the city have regular open-air markets where the arts and handicrafts are displayed for sale. Several art and handicraft routes are widely known around Durban i.e. Durban North Beach, Durban South Beach, Victoria Street Markets and Durban station. These four locations in Durban were used for the present study. The respondents were divided into 3 groups, group 1 concentrated on craft producers and marketers, group 2 concentrated on craft producers only, while the group 3 concentrated on craft marketers only. A tape recorder was used in conducting an in-depth structured interview. Tallying, coding, text analysis, content analysis is used for performing qualitative data analysis [22]. Also, this study used secondary data, from UNCTAD statistics to conduct a situational analysis of the place of the crafts in the cultural and creative industries nexus.

4.2 Methods

To unravel the problems faced by crafts sectors, and to get a deeper understanding of what policy intervention is required towards the protection and sustainability of the sector, a qualitative research was employed using a both primary and secondary data sources to satisfy the data requirements of the study, and make findings more robust. For this study, the secondary data is sourced from the United Nations for Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTADSTAT) data center. The UNCTAD data was used because it analyses the trade in creative goods using the Harmonised System (HS) and BPM6 (International Investment Position Manual and Balance of Payments) respectively. It provides annual data of value and shares, growth rates and concentration index of creative goods exports and imports, from 1995 to 2015. The secondary data is used because it is inexpensive, less demanding, and faster means of obtaining information compared to primary data. Primary data collection was conducted by using in-depth face-to-face interviews with 15 craft enterprises in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. A structured, pretested, and validated interview question of study were used for collecting data as part of the qualitative aspect of study. The primary data is rather expensive, and the delays and cost of primary data was being minimised by complementing it with secondary data. However, only enterprises that are established in the production and marketing of purely handicrafts products were purposively selected for this study. Also, participants were purposively selected to include only three races (Black, White, and Indian) based on availability and readiness to partake in the interview. The coloured race was not included due to non-availability to fit into the purpose of the present study. The interview was conducted by verbally delivering the questionnaires with the help of a Zulu interpreter for those who are more comfortable with local language.


5. Results and discussions

5.1 Secondary data

Regarding the cultural and creative Goods there is need to break the data down to a sub-sector level across the various categories, differentiating between trade with South Africa and the rest of the world, respectively. The data connected to South African export trade with the rest of the world show that the decline in exports to this world region has been driven by a marked downward trend in the export of design products, with only visual arts and new media showing. The cultural and Creative Good data has been broken down into sub-sector level across the groupings differentiating between trade with South Africa and the rest of the world respectively. Figure 2 shows the data of South African creative goods export as a percentage of the total world trade between the period of 2002–2015.

Figure 2.

Values and shares of creative goods exports, annual, 2002–2015. Source: UNCTAD statistics [23].

Table 3 shows that South African trade of creative goods has increased considerably up to 69%, of exports, which goes to the African market in 2015, relative to just 33% in 2006. By 2015, trade with the United States and the Europe had reduced, and the top five export partners for creative goods were Namibia, the United States, Lesotho, and Botswana.

EconomyValues in Million US $Values in Million US $
1United States14,791,4513,34Namibia5,680,015,67
2United Kingdom4,061,392,68United states2,551,980,57
7Netherlands0,220,55−0,33United Kingdom1,120,550,57
8United States of Tanzania0,210,020,19Zimbabwe0,490,68−0,19

Table 3.

Top 10 export Partners for Craft Products Only.

Source: UNCTAD Statistics [23].

South Africa creative goods exports increased from $370 million in 2005 to $629 million in 2011. The values decrease gradually by 2% between 2012 and 2015. However, the total value of South African exports to the rest of the world between 2002 and 2015 is $6.3 billion. Design goods have the highest export category generating values of $3.1 billion of the total export between 2002 and 2015; this is followed by publishing which total $1.5 billion; Visual arts $653 million. Crafts at $528 million; and new media at $257 million. Nevertheless, South Africa was a net importer of creative goods. Regardless of having a growing creative economy, by 2015, the creative goods trade deficit was $1.4 billion.

Figure 3 illustrates the Key creative goods imports for South Africa between, 2002–2015 were Design (46%); Audio Visuals (15%), Publishing (14%); and new media (13%); respectively of the total import. The design shows the highest rate of import between these years. Meanwhile, total imports stood at $20.8 billion, three times higher than the total export values. Despite having a growing creative economy, between 2002 to 2015 the creative goods trade deficit was $979 million in 2015. Design goods were the strongest import category generating total values of South African import with the rest of the world from 2002 to 2015 as $9.4 billion; followed by audio visual $2.9 billion; new media as $2.6 billion; and arts crafts at $1.5 billion.

Figure 3.

Values and shares of creative goods imports, annual, 2002–2015. Source: UNCTAD statistics [23].

5.2 Research interview

Table 4 shows that eleven of the interviewees were male and ten were female. There was no division between male and female regarding the type of craft they market or produce. About seventeen different categories of craft are being produced and marketed by the respondents. This is comparable to the South African pocket guide to Arts and Culture (2011), which puts forward that South Africans produce an outstanding collection of arts and crafts comprising various types of traditional artwork. Regarding the type of enterprise activities, 5 interviewees were producers/marketers of craft products, 5 were producers only and 5 were marketers only. The locations of data collection and percentage of enterprises interviewed are described in the Table 4 below. The Queen Victoria Market has the highest number of interviewees i.e. 40% of the participants, while the participants from Durban station amounts to only 13.3%. The following gives the description of each respondents personal profile as displayed in the Table 5 below: a – ‘Sex’; B – ‘Age’; C – ‘Race’; D – ‘Education’; E – ‘Artisan Training’; F – ‘Years of experience’.

Locations of interviewsNumber and percentage
Queen Victoria Market6(40%)
South Beach Front4(26.7%)
North Beach Front3(20%)
Durban Station2(13.3%)

Table 4.

Sites used for data collection (n = 15).

However, in addition to other business activities, the monthly income made by interviewees from crafts varied substantially as shown in Table 6. As illustrated in the table, bigger portion of the 9 (60%) of the interviewee reported a low sales performance of below R10, 000 monthly, while a minority of 6 (40%) of the respondents experiences a high sale monthly performance of above R10, 000. Only 2 of interviewees earn the highest amount higher than R20, 000 monthly income on craft sales totaled only 13.3% of all the respondents. There are many active enterprise factors that determine how much can be earned monthly from craft products. The non-financial factors are based on measures that are individually determined by the business owner. These non-financial factors assume that there is a given level of financial security already established, which maybe that, the business is not the primary source of income for the owner [24]. Out the total number of interviewees 9 were black, while there are 3 Indians and 3 whites, respectively. Likewise, the total number of females is 6 blacks, 1 Indian and 2 whites. Figure 4 shows that a total number of 6 (40%) of the interviewees are between the age brackets (41–50), and 4 (26.7%) are between the age range of (31–40), while 2 (13.3%) of total interviewed are between ages (21–30), and only 3 (13.3%) is between the age range (51–60), meanwhile there is no representative with the age below 21 amongst the respondents. The Cultural Industries Growth Strategy (CIGS) (1998) reports that the craft producers are predominantly black women, and they are mostly middle-aged women who are the primary economic providers within the family.

NumberPersonal profileTechnology requiredOther source of incomeTypes of handicraft producedStaff employed for the businessHandicraft no longer in production. When and why?Problems with raw materialsExternal support/assistanceTypes of supportAverage monthly salesNotes on product innovation and development
1a. Male
b. 31–40
c. Black
d. Grade 12
e. Dress making
f. 8 years
Sewing and bead machineNoneTraditional attires
SelfNoneNoneNoneNoneR8,000Creating business website for easy trade
2a. Male
b. 21–30
c. India
d. Degree
e. No training
f. 6 years
Wood craft machinesSelf-employedWooden products (photo frames, chairs coffee table)1 employeeWooden masksStock is slowly disappearingFriends
R8,800Youths need to be trained in design of traditional crafts instead of importing
3a. Female
b. 51–60
c. Black
d. Postgraduate
e. No artisan training
e. 30 years
Knitting equipment’, Chizzol, RasperNoneWooden masks, Sculptures, and hat knittingFamily and 3 employeesBeaded shirts (Isigege)
Partial blindness
Getting materials, which I usually get from Thuthuka and MpumalangaBank loanNoneR25,500Exposure, advertising, networking and training with other African crafters
4a. Female
b. 41–50
c. Black
d. No education
e. Artisan training
f. 12 years
NoneSelf-employedGrass picnic baskets, Grass sun hats, Grass matsSelf and familyLeather shoes, bags, and interior decorations
Materials not available
It takes killing animals to get original raw materialFamilyProduction equipment’s/tools, Raw materialsR5,000Introduction of more new craft and teaching more youth on our own heritage and how to create wealth using our natural resources
5a. Female
b. 41–50
c. White
d. Diploma
e. No artisan training
f. 20 years
Thread runners, Beads making machinePart-time salary workBeaded shoes,
Beaded products for decoration,
Beaded necklaces
Family and 5 employeesAttires, Beaded skirts (Isigege)
Its seasonal and cannot be produced anytimeSETANoneR19,800Opportunities to travel to other places to showcase product
NumberPersonal profileTechnology requiredOther source of incomeTypes of handicraft producedStaff employed for the businessHandicraft no longer marketed. When and why?Problems with raw materialsExternal support/assistanceTypes of supportAverage monthly salesNotes on product innovation and development
6a. Female
b. White
c. 41–50
d. Diploma
e. Artisan training
f. 15 years
YesPart-time salary workCeramics, Sculptures, paintings1 EmployeesClay pot
Time consuming
Some raw materials are usually imported from other countriesNoneRaw materials,
Production space,
R9,500Education is priority. More training and exposure
7a. Female
b. 21–30
c. Black
d. Grade 12
e. No artisan training
f. 3 years
Embroidery and knitting machinesPermanent salary workKnitting, Tapestry, EmbroideryNoneNoneNoneFamilyRaw materials, Sales/marketingR5,800Funding, Advertising, and publicity
8a. Male
b. 51–60
c. Black
d. Grade 12
e. No artisan training
f. 10 years
Printing machine
NonePainting, Coffee drawing (painting),
Print making (wood cut)
NoneNoneMaterials are expensive and not making enough profits to buy materialsFamilyTechnical skillsR8,000We need to study how to do things ourselves and how to market them
9a. Female
b. 41–50
c. Black
d. Degree
e. Training fine arts
f. 28 years
Goldsmith Jewellery Making equipmentNoneJewelries, Beaded necklace, beaded shoesFamilyNoneThe beads used are scarce cannot found them anymoreFriends
Raw materials, Sales/advertisingR9,800More raw materials to be always made available
10a. Male
b. 51–60
c. India
d. Grade 12
f. No training
f. 27 years
Industrial sewing machines.Self-employedBeaded shoes, Beaded bags, and wire works5 employeesYesA lot of products we have stop producing because the sales dropped badlyNoneNoneR20,200Need for a proper shop and exhibition for exposure
NumberPersonal profileTechnology requiredOther source of incomeTypes of handicraft marketingStaff employedHandicraft no longer in marketing. When and why?Problems with marketingExternal support/assistanceTypes of supportAverage monthly salesNotes on product innovation and development
11a. Female
b. 31–40
c. Black
d. Grade 12
e. No training
f. years
NoneSelf-employedWoven blankets, Carved wood sculpturesNoneNoneNoneFamilySales and marketingR12,000Government should help with exporting
12a. Male
b. 41–50
c. Black
d. Degree
e. Training
f. 5 years
NoneNoneBeaded shoes, Neck wear, Calabash drumSelfNoneNoneDTIProduction equipment, Raw materials, Sales/marketingR8,000Funding, Advertising, and publicity
13a. Male
c. White
d. Grade 12
e. No training
f. 7 years
ComputersNoneBead works, Ceramics, SculpturesnoneNoneNoneNoneNoneR16,000Finance and support from the government
14a. Female
b. 41–50
c. India
d. Grade 11
e. No artisan training
f. 15 years
NoneSelf-employedFlower container with beads, Wire bowls, Wire basketsFamilyNoneYesFriend
Raw materialsR9,000Provide the youth with resources and funding for growth. Visit to other countries to learn how they produce
15a. Female
b. 31–40
c. Black
d. Grade 12
e. No training
f. 12 years
NoneSelf-employedWooden drums, Side tables, Animal skin shields2 EmployeesClay pots
Scarcity of clay
Clay for crafts is scarce and sometimes not availableRaw materials
Sales and marketing
R15,500Business owners needs website and training to advertise their work

Table 5.

Interviewees’ profiles (n = 15).

Interviewees’ business statusSales performance
(Average monthly sales)
(n = 9)
(n = 6)
Production/Marketing (n = 5)#1(R8,000) α
#2(R8,800) α
#4(R5,000) β
#3(R25,500) β
#5(19,800) β
(n = 5)
#6(R9,500) β
#7(R5,800) β
#8(R8,000) α
#9(R9,800) β
#10(R20,200) α
(n = 5)
#12(R8,000) α
#14(R9,000) β
#11(R12,000) β
#13(R16,000) α
#15(R15,500) β

Table 6.

The business status, and performance levels of the interviewees (n = 15).

β = Female; α = Male; # = Number.

Figure 4.

Map showing the City of Durban and nearby beach fronts. Source: (2018)

5.3 The business activity engagement

Even though only 15 interviewees were in the sample and no statistical significance can be drawn, it is important to cross-compare the status, and sales performance of the interviewees. Table 5 summarises the data.

To present the sales performance of interviewees’, they are categorised according to their business status as either involved in production, marketers, and production/marketing based on the performance on their monthly enterprise activities. The limit level of R10, 000 is based on average gross household incomes in South Africa as reported by the Statistics South Africa (2010). For this study, interviewee with a monthly gross household income of less than R9, 990 per month (approximately R120, 000 per year) are considered “poor” or “low income”. As with estimation, Table 6 shows that the lowest sales obtained amongst all interviewees were experienced by those engage in craft production. The results show that only one (#10 – R20,200) of the ‘producers’ obtained a monthly gross income above the average gross household income of R10, 000 for the South African standard. The interviewees who are involved as marketers of craft product obtained the highest monthly sales in their business. A total number of three out of the five interviewed in this category experienced gross monthly earnings above the limit level, such as R12,000, another of which R15,500, the highest of R16,000, respectively. This indicates that the craft producers do not earn a reasonable amount from their productions. Kaiser and Associates [25] evidence that majority of craft producers are small enterprises operating in an informal economy. Hence, how will craft producers sustain their livelihood, or decide on the future sustainability of their business?


6. Discussions

6.1 Issues relating to crafts protection

Crafts are a huge attraction to local and international tourists. Based on a study conducted in Algeria by Asma, Diabate and Othman [26] they presented that craft business is worthy of support by national governments and tourist operators in terms of attracting visitors and earn foreign currency. Oyekunle and Sirayi [27] revealed that craft entrepreneurs in most African countries are adversely affected by lack of specialised skills, training opportunities, support of national governments and support of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). According to Aigbavboa and Thwala [28], national government is less attentive for this sector as seen from the lower support for the craft sector. According to Wood [29], the contribution of government to craft practitioners in South Africa is insufficient because, they are still facing many challenges which make it difficult for them to thrive and be profitable businesses. Thus, identifying and addressing enterprise factors that affect the craft enterprises makes a significant contribution to the literature of cultural and creative industries as a whole. However, the increasing need for the development of the craft sector in South Africa, accompanied by the growth of design, has caused a rise in exhibition projects in the country, including the annual Design Expo at the South Africa Handmade Collection in Johannesburg and the Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town [30]. The results of these are shown in Figure 2 above with subsequent growth each year report resulting in increase of international tourist and export orders. The figure also shows the arts craft export reaching its peak in 2010 as a result of the world cup activities and events and declined gradually by 2015.

Also, craft sectors are confronted by several marketing problems (see, [31, 32, 33]). Taking into account lack of financial resources and their small scale of enterprises, publicity and advertising activities is not possible for artisans [34]. The South African Presidential Review Committee recommends that in the future the government will intensify publicity and advertisement for all craft sectors. However, to adequately promote and conserve the African cultural heritage, artisans need to be provided an effective marketing support and several advertising and marketing strategies [35]. Benson further point that the promotion of African cultural heritage is not to be the responsibility of crafters who sell these products, but likewise the government ministries should intervene. Therefore, it is required for South African government to perform an important role in solving the marketing problems confronted by artisans. This is highlighted by the two respondents (#9 and #10):

Sometimes the whole day I do not sell anything. I want to be exporting my craft products because the local market is too slow, also I cannot import production materials because they are too expensive to buy from South Africa. Most of us crafters need capital to help us import, equipment and materials together. I applied for bank loan but did not get it. (#9, α black).

Sales are always very high at the period when we have a lot of tourist around. The tourist mostly pays dollars for the crafts and I make most profit through them […]. Durban is also known for tourism […], so we rely on sales from both local and international tourists and visitors more that the local buyers. (#10, α Indian).

6.2 Issues on product sustainability

According to the result gathered from this research, the South African craft products are fading away, considered as weak, and insufficiently targeted for growth. These are for following main reasons:

  1. Problem of clarity in target market.

    Overwhelmingly, craft producers have created products without adequate planning vis-à-vis for the target customers. Not only do they not know what their target market is, they lack information on who exactly are their target customer.

  2. Products produced stagnation.

    Few products have had designers help in product development, there is no investment in continuation of design efforts or investment in fostering artisans to be creative themselves.

  3. Lack of vision for a sustainable strategy for the product.

    Overwhelmingly, the government institutions and other organisations assisting producers and marketers group lack medium to long-term strategies for success. This has translated into the following scenarios:

    • Products being produced, but not sold, or sold at very low prices.

    • Lack of money to hire qualified, skilled workers.

    • No funds allocated to marketing or business planning.

  4. Inadequate business capacity.

    Neither the associated agencies that are sponsoring the craft products, nor the producers themselves understand the business. Most importantly, this is seen in their lack of ability to price products according to real costs plus a realistic profit margin. Profit is not paramount in their thinking [36].

  5. Lack of a sufficient funding to see products through preservation.

    None of the products are sustainable functioning as businesses, and so funding received is used for immediate needs, due to the inability of the business to sustain the owners.

  6. Deficiency in coordination of vertical and horizontal levels.

    There is virtually no coordination of efforts at either a vertical or horizontal level amongst stakeholders. This has translated into craft products that have failed; poor investments, unmotivated workers, products sitting on shelves, and an overall inability to take advantage of the money spent by the influx of tourists in South Africa.

  7. Insufficient creativity and innovation in product development.

    Most products have relied on local community old men and women to do product development. This has resulted in products that are not saleable in the tourist market and only marginally saleable to the local markets. Producers are taught to produce, not to innovate or be creative.

  8. Competition of crafts from other African countries as well as those being imported.

    The few products produced in South Africa still must compete in price, style, and aesthetics, with those from other areas of Africa, as well as imports found throughout the souvenir stores in South Africa. This has raised the competitive bar of imported crafts over the locally made, but yet has not resulted in innovation in the South African products.

  9. Craft business is not treated as an important sub-sector of the growing cultural and creative industry in South Africa.

    There has been no treatment of the craft sector as an important sub-sector within the growing CCIs in South Africa. Few, if any, vertical or horizontal linkages have been made to build success for the entire industry, including the local community.

  10. Need for critical thinking and design skills amongst producers.

    Producers are not taught to be critical thinkers in product development or design, but rather they do exactly same as the olden days, repeating steps and processes. While not everyone is a designer, this limits innovation and product development potential.

6.3 Issues on policy intervention

The policy interventions provided in this study are developed from the qualitative research carried out by the author to identify problems faced by crafts entrepreneurs in South Africa and to discourse those issues in order to contribute to the preservation of craft sector. These recommendations concentrate on those policy interventions, which act to propose to the craft industries and government, the ultimate benefits from the development of the sectors. The research evidently shows the importance of strategy implementation towards expanding the craft sectors. This research also evident from international illustrations and in South Africa, that the sustainability and development of the craft sector should be set aside for the advantage of those economic disadvantage segments of the society such as women, disabled, homeless people, and the unemployed [17]. Though, there are key gaps in the development of the craft sector identified by this research. Lots of these gaps could be secure through developing more logical synchronisation between this research and existing literatures. Relevant craft sector initiatives that need urgent interventions are identified by the respondents and concisely presented below with the list of possible policy interventions.

  1. Government Obligation

Rather than demoting craft entrepreneur to the municipalities only, this study strongly recommends that craft support actions should be integrated into the operation of all local government departments, provincial and national government agenda. Through this, the craft sector in South Africa can gradually change into an important employment generating sector, low investment, and enthusiastically being part of the social-economic development strategy for the country [30]. This was emphasised by the following respondents:

I have received a support from SETA for raw materials before but have not been able to receive any from the NGOs. I have approached some NGOs before, for funding to support my business in the last two years ago, but no success yet. I started this business when I could not get a job after school, but I will need a loan or funding to sustain it. (#9, β black).

I applied for a funding support at the DTI for machines to help with production, but it was not approved. I had to stop production of some products because working with hand tools wastes a lot of energy and time. The government also needs to build a craft market for us, where the whole world will know, and tourists will visit. We do not have a craft market, except those sitting together in a temporary shelter by the beach front. (#13, α white).

  1. 2. Education and training

Crafting skills are acquired in a several ways, such as high school or primary school; general education; through observation; inherited cultural or family traditions; formal art education; informal courses and training programmes; as well as apprenticeship. Chan [37] believes the informal sectors of the rural and urban economy in South Africa rely on the support of artisans, and the induction of apprentices either from within the family in the rural areas or from drop-outs of the formal educational system in the urban areas, but all of which has not been properly studied or documented.

I learnt the production from my grandmother. I need more training on the production, but it will be good if the government can organise training and workshop to assist me. I have some apprentice who are learning and assisting with the business. Many people in the handicraft business need training but could not afford it [….]. (#6, β white).

I always make sure to attend workshops and training for crafters. But I have only attended the ones organised by NGOs, I have not attended any one by the government. The Queen Victoria Market committees have organised a workshop for us before through the government agencies, but people refused to attend, because they felt they are being neglected by the government. I have applied to a school to get more education in sales and marketing. (#1, β India).

The committee of Queen Victoria Markets has organised a training for us before through the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA). Through the training I was able to get a fund to support my business, and this funding has really helped in sustaining my business. I was able to rent another shop and could stock better. (#3, β white).

  1. 3. Preserving Cultural heritage

In South African promotion of culture and cultural product is an important element in enhancing knowledge of the craft both international and domestic markets [6]. Black South Africans were set apart from their cultural heritage through the time of apartheid. The fine arts and craft, such as – painting, sculpture, traditional attire, indigenous knowledge, showcases the traditional worth and gives a better understanding of the cultural value of people and community [15]. The craft sector needs to be seen locally and internationally as a cultural expression through which African heritage is promoted.

I have worked as a permanent employee before I quit after 15 years. This business has been a family business and my mother wants me to continue in order to preserve the business. [….] I love creativity and creating my own design, so I decided to go into handicraft production […]. The business is very lucrative is helping to preserve and build an African culture and tourism. (#2, α India)

I believe the South African craft business are for the blacks because it tells so much about our heritage and history. Almost all my family are doing the business [...]. My grandfather does weave and painting, likewise my uncle does wooden craft and wire works. I also have two of my siblings in the business. We do export SA crafts to other Southern African countries because we share almost same culture. (#15, β black).

I did not have any training or formal education to doing this business. I love traditional music and dance and do a lot within the community. The arts and culture are my number one priority, because a lot of people are leaving the business. I make a lot of money from selling craft and will like to learn more about the production. (#4, β black).

  1. 4. Market Identification

This research asserted that the market for the craft products must be initially recognised before any thoughtful promotion of new craft product. Mostly, this occurs in rural craft schemes that production come first before the conception of adequate market demand for a specific type of the craft products. Thus, if the craft products have no demand or buyers, there will be no cash to pay for the materials of production or cost of the labour. It is important here that all rural craft development projects should start with a cautious assessment of market demand or consumer preference, then move into the promotion, training, and new phases of enterprise development. In order to provide basic information about craft sector operations in South Africa, a series of catalogues, articles, publications (e.g., weekly magazines), and brochures need to be circulated to craft producers and marketers. The stakeholders (for instance, the DAC) could assist to encourage others such as home choice, sheet streets and the major retail outlets to create a system that will allow small producers to produce a product that is sold through their channels.

I learn the craft marketing trade from my mother. I do not like the production because it takes a lot of time, and the buyers will not want to pay good price. This affects the production with low quality items, thereby more difficult to sell. Marketing of crafts is very difficult because people do not appreciate the value and wants to pay cheaply, only the tourist pays good price. Some products are also seasonal and […] the demand falls. (#13, α white).

Crafts products need promotion and advertisement. In most African homes you will hardly see craft or traditional items. The government need to help create the awareness and promoting of this industry. Everything is changing now, and crafters too need to improve what they produce and how the market it. Otherwise a lot of people will be out of business. (#12, α black).

The producers do not understand the market, they keep producing the same product. The same product design I have been selling for more than 10 years. There is not new design and innovation. In order to fight competition, I have to stock imported crafts sometimes. The customers are tired of buying the same products, especially the locals. The producers do not have the ability to identify the customers need and satisfy them. (#14, β Indian).


7. Delivery systems and sustainability

Market accessibility to import, export, and local markets is a big problem for craft sectors. However, this study has identified that the more difficult the solution, the more expected failure. The best way is to use the existing infrastructure which involves the smallest possible external intervention is the best approach that delivers well for craft producers. Therefore, appropriate publications informing craft marketers and producers about demand and supply for craft products, infrastructures and technologies should be provided to crafters. For instance, inclusion of craft sectors in SMEs programmes by DAC and DTI; Encyclopaedia of the craft sector in South Africa, similar to the fashion magazines; Business desks which acknowledge the craft industry as a group to organise themselves into associations of craft producer and marketer.

With the purpose to make marketing of craft products grow to the best the following were suggested for implementation:

  1. Organising craft marketing network: Lack of organised marketing networks has been a hindering import in the sector. The Kaiser and Associates [38] proposed that the artisans must structure themselves by forming a co-operative system for marketing their craft products by themselves. This can develop into more associations with external partners towards good export and import trade, especially with other African countries.

  2. Uniformity in price: There has been critics that craft prices are very much inconsistent and not uniform, even with items purchased from two shops or two places. This circumstance makes customers feel exploited, which might have a negative consequence of the demand for the products. Therefore, craft should be classified and priced by a team of experts according to the skill displayed and quality of raw materials used [25].

  3. Creating awareness: Most artisans are not aware of new schemes (for instance, loan and rates, raw materials, free tools). It is the responsibility of the promotional organisations to create awareness for artisans about the different welfare schemes and to device same warfare.

  4. Reluctance of youth to practice the profession: The youth finds it difficult to endure time-consuming and complex process of craft production, instead they prefer to market the end product. Therefore, they normally do not aim to choose this profession. This has caused culture and heritage vulnerability (UNESCO, undated).

  5. Engaged in more craft research and development: In order to improve the quality of the products, there is a need for research and development. Oyekunle [39] believe this will aid the development of many new items and new designs.

  6. Collaboration with foreign artisans and designers: Foreign expert designers may be invited to render guidance and assistance to the craftsmen [39].

  7. Adding value to craft: Specialised organisations may assist the local units in the production of different value-added items which would help to penetrate the local market and exporting of such items to foreign countries.

  8. The economic impact of craft on urban and rural livelihoods has not been researched in South Africa. The government needs to oversee a large number of projects that sought to tackle poverty through craft developments, which could also bring development into rural areas where the levels of poverty were highest [18]. I argue for the impracticality of attaining rural regeneration through successful reorganisation of the rural industrial economic system.

  9. Craft publicity: In order to attract both local and foreign buyers, marketing and promotional organisations emphasise on wide publicity of local products [40].

  10. Craft exports: Organised effort may allow some of the selected products develop into earning major foreign exchange in the near future (Khan and Amir, 2013). But care should be taken before exporting such items on price, product identification, payment terms, quantum of production, supply arrangements, quality, delivery, etc.

  11. Display of Craft items: All the marketing and promotional organisation must display the local items in different places like railway stations, bus stands, commercial centres and airports [27]. This will assist the local artisans to secure more orders from traders, tourists, marketing organisation etc.

  12. Strategic positioning of craft Products: Most crafts produced with traditional skill are increasingly facing competition with machine made products. Abisuga-Oyekunle and Fillis [9] claimed that a high number of craft items are either substitute or competing for entrant into the market.


8. Conclusion

The craft production and marketing are very dynamic part of the economy in many developing countries. In the literature, the position of craft practise has been broadly acknowledged for development in Africa, hence it becomes essential to give consideration regarding suitable policy measures to protect the craft practise [9]. Most research has shown that craft entrepreneurs in most African countries are adversely affected by lack of specialised skills, training opportunities, support of national governments and support from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Consequently, the question of transferring craft knowledge and skills from generation to generation is real. This study identified various issues faced by crafts entrepreneurs with the purpose of preserving the cultural heritage and contributing to the sustainability.

This study pointed several issues and limitations that craft sectors in South Africa faced with the position of crafts products within the cultural and creative industries, such as low youth participation, lack of basic materials, lack of innovation, limited financial resources and skills/training facilities [41]. These problems are declining the importance of the craft sectors. This study shows that these sectors are slowly misplacing their existence and require urgent intervention to preserve the business and cultural values.

With the intention to make available empirical evidences to back the assumptions of this study, it examined the case of South African craft sector. The case of South Africa demonstrated the assumptions of the study providing evidence of problems faced by craft businesses and the need for developing the sector. Also, this study indicates that the government needs to implement several policies because export and employment in craft sector are declining compared to other sectors (e.g., design, visual arts and publishing) within the CCIs [41]. Even though several measures to support craft products were introduced before, but due to many challenges as stated above, the sector is losing its import resulting from high flow of total imports into the country, this has affected the craft sectors to a great extent.


Biographic Data

  1. Sex

  2. Age

  3. Race

  4. Education

  5. Artisan Training

  6. Years of Experience

Enterprises Factors

  1. What is the nature of your business?

    1. Handicraft Production only

    2. Handicraft Marketing only

    3. Marketing/production

  2. What crafts do you produce/market?

  3. I would like to ask you some questions about these craft products.

    1. Where is the production process taking place?

    2. Who buys the craft?

    3. Where is it sold?

  4. Are there any handicrafts which you or any member of your household used to produce but are no longer producing? If yes.

    1. Mention the crafts

    2. When did they stop producing this craft (year)?

    3. Why do they stop producing this craft?

  5. Do you have problems in getting raw material for production?

  6. Have you added any innovation to your business/product in past three years?

  7. Presently, what innovation and development do you think the handicraft sector needs?

  8. What type of equipment or machine do you require to make your business more effective?

  9. Do you have employee or people you work with?

  10. Do you have other sources of income beside handicraft work currently?

  11. What are the average monthly returns on this work? (sales/month)

  12. Have you attended any social event in the past two years (e.g. workshop, seminal, exhibition)?

    1. Who organised the event?

    2. Mention where the event took place?

  13. Have you received any fund/loan for the business before?

    1. State the source of the fund/loan?

  14. Is the handicraft business good enough to sustain you and family?

  15. Could you tell me about the problems you face with your business?

  16. Have you ever participated in any of the government’s programmes to assist entrepreneurs?

  17. In sustaining your business, describe the types of support you have received (non-governmental organisation, government, relatives, or friends)?

  18. Does your family background or history relate to your business?

  19. Do you normally export your craft products?

    1. Where do you export to?

  20. Do you import anything for your production process?

    1. What do you import?

  21. Do you have any other business or job outside the handicraft business?


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Written By

Abisuga Oluwayemisi Adebola

Submitted: 19 August 2020 Reviewed: 18 September 2020 Published: 22 October 2020