THE EVENT

The inaugural AFRIKA HANDMADE Symposium was held on 2-3rd October at the Jacaranda
hotel Westlands, Nairobi.
Afrika Handmade was developed as a strategic advocacy activity under Craft Afrika’s market
development program. Beyond creating a networking platform among various stakeholder
groups, the objective was to create visibility for contemporary craft and design in Kenya.
The expected outcome of this long-term initiative is the opening up of new market
opportunities especially at the domestic and regional level.
Godown Art Centre, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, Biz Baz Events, Kenya Copyright Board,
Motieno Designs, Niro Collection, Goodies African Interiors & Gifts, Zindua Ltd and
Robrooker.com made Afrika Handmade possible through sponsorship
35 delegates, 11 speakers, 5 mentors, 4 moderators and 6 crew attended the two- day event.
Overall participation was 61.

Afrika Handmade Participation

Delegates
Speakers
Mentors
Moderators

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Crew

Day 1 began with Christine Gitau- convener of Afrika Handmade 2014 giving remarks
on the event and its objective. [See appendix 1]
PROGRAM [See appendix 2]
The program included two plenary sessions, two open spaces, a mentorship session and four
breakout discussions.

Plenary Session 1 - Kenyan Made for the Kenyan Consumer: Building a
Sustainable Domestic Market
Moderator: Flora Okuku – lecturer, Technical University of Kenya.
Panelists:
 Jacqueline Resley - founder, Spinners Web/Kenya Weaver Bird/Kinanda
 Danda Jaroljmek - director, Circle Art Agency
 Goodie Odhiambo - founder Goodies African Interiors and Gifts
Goodie Odhiambo noted that crafts in Kenya dated back to traditional history, where for the
most part they were functional items used in homes and as tools of trade. Danda Jaroljmek
observed that it can be difficult to distinguish between what comes from East Africa/Kenya
and others part of Africa due to poor historical documentation of crafts and their place of
origin. Jacqueline Resley who has been active in the Kenyan craft sector since 1983, noted
that Kenya’s craft sector became vibrant after independence when there was a push to create
jobs and a lot of money was invested in the sector. African Heritage co-founded by Alan
Donovan and Joseph Murumbi was the first organization to commercialize Kenya’s cultural
heritage.
On whom the Kenyan consumers were, Danda noted that the demographic of people buying
craft was changing as most people were beginning to perceive craft as more than just a
luxurious item. Jacqueline added that consumers of contemporary craft were mostly young
people with disposable income from the burgeoning middle class demographic. She
mentioned that 90% of crafts in her retail outlet, Spinners Web, were consumed locally and
that she had never exported as it was too expensive. However, she noted that while there
notion that ‘Kenyan made’ was not quality. Another challenge is the high cost of

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manufacturing in Kenya, which makes production very expensive and the final product out of

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was a potential domestic market, tapping into it was made difficult by the wide spread

reach for potential consumers.

She noted that because of this getting the costing and

pricing right was a priority for any craft entrepreneur. Furthermore, this high cost of
production meant that craft products ended up with high price tags, which meant that the
target market needed to be in a high income bracket. Goodie challenged the audience to
look beyond Nairobi for markets because as there were other less obvious market
opportunities in other counties.
The moderator opened up the discussion on how to target the domestic market. An
interesting observation from the audience was that generally speaking, ‘Made in Africa’ label
was easier to sell at the global market than the more specific ‘Made in Kenya’ one. Following
discussion on the same, the consensus was that Kenyan contemporary designers needed to
buoy the ‘Made in Kenya’/ ‘100% made in Kenyan’ label by not only creating quality
products, but by also consciously creating awareness and educating consumers about local
design and its possibilities. Jacqueline proposed a regular ‘Best of Kenya’ fair for designermakers to build a domestic market for contemporary craft and design products.
There was a call for designer-makers to be innovative and create products that displayed
high levels of creativity and innovation. It was noted that sub-sectors such as jewelry were
saturated while wood, glass, stone, plastic etc were still to be exploited as craft mediums. The
discussion delved into factors that influenced innovation and creativity within the craft sector.
Issues such as raw materials, sustainability, product differentiation, production processes,
technology, market segmentation, price differentiation, collaborations, mentorship and
apprenticeship and market positioning were discussed within the context of innovation.

COMMENTS:
The session was good and discourse
was wonderful. The speakers and
contribution showed a problem exists
and need to be tackled.

The session was good, the speakers
relevant and people were interactive
giving each other ideas.
Glena – The Pink Savannah

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Stephen Komote – Moving Cultures

Plenary Session 2 - Theme: Enabling a Thriving Craft Sector: Conversations
with Government
Moderator: Professor Pido – Technical University of Kenya
Panelists:
 Rebecca Mpaayei – Manager, Gender Mainstreaming & Women Enterprise
Development, Export Promotion Council (EPC)
 Charles Tumbo – Assistant Manager, Export Promotion Council (EPC)
 Kate Kahuria – Senior Legal Counsel, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO)
The Export Promotion Council is the government agency charged with the support and
promotion of craft exports. Several of the audience members however felt that the agency
had not lived up to its mandate. The general feeling was that EPC had sidelined
contemporary craft designers, focusing instead on the more traditional craft producers and
big manufacturing companies. An accusation was leveled against EPC to the effect that over
the years they had – at both regional and international level- misrepresented the craft sector
in Kenya as only consisting of curios and nondescript souvenir trinkets. This failing, the
audience observed, was a result of poor research and lack of willingness to do the hard work
that comes with identifying and nurturing emerging talent countrywide.
However, EPC representatives Rebecca and Charles argued that contemporary craft
producers had a responsibility to be proactive in the pursuit of their goals. They noted that
the only way contemporary craft designers would get recognition and their voices heard was
through an association. Rebecca suggested that a possible outcome of the symposium was
the coming together of all participants into a formal structure that would advance their
objectives and concerns. She added that forming an association would be a strategic move,
as it would coalesce similar interests and give a platform for negotiations with donors,
government, and global policy-making bodies including EPZA, AGOA and COMESA.
Kate Kahuria from Kenya Copyright Board [KECOBO] began by stating that her organization’s
involvement at the symposium was as a follow up to a previous session with Craft Afrika’s
community of craft entrepreneurs, where copyright and the craft industry was discussed at

and cultural space. She cited the bill on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and

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agencies, was keen on protecting and safeguarding intellectual property within the creative

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length. She mentioned that the Kenya government, through KECOBO and other government

Traditional Cultural Expressions 2013 as an example of steps the government with the help of
other stakeholders, was taking to protect and safeguard Kenya’s cultural heritage.
She noted that while ideas could not be protected under copyright law, the creative
expression of the idea could, either under copyright, trademarks and patents. Kate explained
that copyright was the legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher or
artisan to exclusive publication, production, sale of a literary, musical dramatic or artistic
work. Patents on the other hand protected invention, novelty.
A patent was therefore a grant made by government conferring upon the creator of an
invention the sole right to make, use and sell that invention for a limited period. Trademarks
were defined names, symbols or other devices identifying a product, officially registered and
legally restricted to the use of the owner or manufacturer.

EPC have tried really hard but their
training is only about the same old.
However, they don’t understand we
cannot match big businesses and they do
not do any market research for crafters.

Pepe Shaw –Krafty Artz

Kerry Outram – Kanana Knitters

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The session was good and brought
immense combined knowledge. Craft
Afrika should bring the together to build
an association. We do have a voice now
and there should be representation.

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COMMENTS:

Break Out Session 1 [Day 1] - Theme: New Business Models for Contemporary
Craft & Design
Moderator: Sam Imende, Co founder - Enzi Footwear
Panelists:
 Bernard Outah, Regional Director - World Fair Trade Organization – Africa
 Shruti Patel, founder - Savanna Chic
 Kate Mahugu, founder - Soko
The moderator asked panelists to describe their business models.
Bernard Outah began by explaining that although the Fair Trade terminology was
widespread in the West, there was little knowledge of it in Africa by both producers and
consumers. However, he said that the organization had been seeing an increase in
membership- something he attributed to the requirements made by overseas buyers for Fairtrade goods. He went on to refer to a survey done by Ipsos Synovate in Tanzania and Kenya
[2013] that went to prove a domestic market for contemporary handmade items – Fair trade
or not.
Kate Mahugu shared with the audience her online business model that allowed local artisans
to connect with buyers from [mainly] US through mobile phone. She explained that it was a
revolutionary idea- and that it had come from the realization that smart phone mobile
penetration in Kenya was at 67% - an opportunity she and her partners were willing to tap
into in order to create sustainable livelihoods for thousands of artisans.
Shruti of Savannah Chic presented her business model of outsourcing. In the production
process, she was only in charge of design and quality control- with all the making
commissioned to local artisans. She said that it was an interesting model, although not
without its challenges, one of which she cited as intellectual property protection. She said
that while all raw materials and production was local, her main market was abroad- in
Switzerland. This allowed her to mark-up her prices comfortably, because she always
provided top quality and unique products. She opined that from this business model, her
experience had led her to believe that there were opportunities for creating and selling

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luxury handmade products from Kenya and Africa.

Breakout session 2 [Day 1] - Theme: Taking it to the Next Level: When Craft
Meets Design
Moderator: Jacinta Kioko – Niro Collection
Panelists
 Anthony Mulli – Katchy Kollections
 Beatrice Mwasi – SanaBora Designs
The session tackled questions such as whether Kenyan crafters were trend-setters or trend
followers, how to define a unique selling point and how to tell stories around your crafts.
Beatrice noted that the trick was to be ‘Kenyan’ without departing from global trends, in
other words to be local, but think global. At the same time, if local crafters designers wanted
to create trends, research was the key word. Beatrice added that there are two types of
trends: Mega trends which last up to 10 years and fad trends which last 6 months to 3 years.
On the question of distinguishing crafts Mulli explained that a lot depended on environment,
culture and what one wanted to portray. Beatrice added that incorporation of cultural
elements in contemporary craft design is a strategy if one is looking to distinguish
themselves from the crowd. She mentioned that a challenge in design application within the
craft sector was the weak or nonexistent arts education within the national school curriculum,
thereby denying skills and talent building for would-be designers, as well as short-circuiting
an appreciative audience that would place quality standards on designers.
One of the key issues noted at the session by Anthony is that most crafters are not selling
products with dignity, they are selling pity stories, because it was an easier narrative to sell.
Mulli emphasized that there were other more interesting stories to be tell - of origin of raw
materials, of the cultures around it etc. Beatrice noted that for a long time, the Kenyan brand
had become synonymous with the Maasai imagery. The spinoff was a ‘lazification’ of many
craftpreneurs into thinking that this was the furthest they needed to go to be seen as
Kenyan. She challenged this by saying that there were over 40 cultures in Kenya and

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therefore much inspiration to draw from.

Mini Workshop 1 [Day 2] - Theme: Consumer Insight: Market Trends to watch
out for in 2015
Facilitator: Connie Aluoch – Connie Aluoch Styling Management
Connie spoke on the absolute need for market segmentation. Designers need to understand
who their consumers are to the last detail. She emphasized the need to invest in building a
brand, a process that involved creating unique differentiated pieces, consistency, strong
impressions, value proposition and identifying with consumer’s lifestyles. She urged
designers not to overlook the benefits of social media to engage with their customers. She
noted that in the coming years, consumers would continue to demand better quality
products and services and designers needed to keep up with this trend. She emphasized that
price was a major factor in how consumers engaged with products, and therefore it was
important for craft designers to pace themselves when determining price tags.

Open spaces
Open Spaces was an opportunity for audience members to introduce themselves, their
product and their enterprises. The objectives of these sessions were to:
 Encourage designers to speak confidently in front of an audience about their creative
enterprises
 Encourage collaborations and shared creative processes
Eighteen designers representing thirteen enterprises presented their work and allowed for
questions and discussions on their inspiration, material sourcing, challenges, stocking points,
work studios and price points.
They were:
1. Pepe Shaw – Krafty Artz
2. Kawira Mirero – Mambo Pambo
3. Wanny Angerer and Stephen Komote – Moving Cultures
4. Vivian Mugoya – Vivolution
5. Evans Ngure – The Art of Evans Ngure

8. Mutheu Mbondo – Mali ya Mali

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7. Glena Jiwani – The Pink Savannah

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6. Dinah Moraa – Sasa Designs by the Deaf

9. Wangare Wanjau and Tabitha Munyisi – Lulu Works
10. Manciny Migwi – Manciny
11. Joyce Muraya and Pat Mbugua – Amani ya Juu
12. Sarah Vigne and Reuben Gitehi – Rock and Stones
13. Barsil Otieno and Phanuel Maroa – Technical University of Kenya

Mentorship sessions
Afrika Handmade symposium also offered mentorship sessions where emerging designers
got to engage with established designers and entrepreneurs on a more intimate level. These
sessions were not structured and mentee’ or mentor could initiate a conversation.

COMMENTS:
Ann McCreath was very open. She shared her experiences and
challenges. We learnt about branding, marketing, social media,
and sharing ideas. I am now more open to sharing ideas and
scaling up.
Muthoni Kirumba – Scentwise Creations
Wanny Angerer was very inspiring. I felt challenged and realize I
have too much potential and not giving enough. I am
completely transformed.
Barsil Otieno – Technical University of Kenya

Rosie Lore and Anthony Muli have taught us to persevere and
have vision and goal. This has made it clear for me on what to do
in the future.
Kristin – Calla

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Vivian Mugoya - Vivolotion

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Goodie Odhiambo taught us how to defend prices, know
ourselves, produce better products and treat clients and
employees better.

The mentors included:
Ann McCreath – Kiko Romeo
Wanny Angerer - Moving Cultures
Goodie Odhiambo – Goodies African Interiors and Gifts
Rosie Lore – Acumen
Anthony Mulli – Katchy Kollections

SWOT Analysis of Afrika Handmade

Afrika Handmade is a one of a kind
platform
Was able to attract multiple
stakeholders within the sector

Opportunities

P

W

Lack of diversity in representation of
crafters in terms of geography, products,
gender
Some moderators didn’t seem to
understand their role and content well
No opportunity to showcase products to
wider audience

Threats

T

Attracting interest and participation
beyond the Kenyan borders

Issues raised at the symposium may not
been followed through

Formation of a formal network such
as an association

Sustainability of the Symposium

Forum has real opportunity to
create a distinction between
contemporary & traditional craft

Negatives

Positives

Generated quality discussions and
content on the sector

Weaknesses

Disinterest in objective among many
craft entrepreneurs

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S

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Strengths

Recommendations
1. Craft Afrika should seek to establish a sustainability plan for the symposium
2. Initiate a formal structure that will continue to coalesce the participants around a
common course
3. Pay attention to who is invited as a speaker and as a moderator- the strength of a
symposium lies in the content
4. Find a way of allowing participants to showcase their products to a wider audience
5. Invite a diverse number of participants- including from the neighboring East African
countries
6. Track the impact of this initiative long term

The crew at Afrika Handmade 2014:
Christine Gitau – Convener, Co-founder, Craft Afrika
Priscilla Kirumba – Registration
Kevin Midigo – Photography
Ellah Nyawira – Social Media
Ken Oloo – Video
Wanjiru Ndung’u – Rapporteur

The next Afrika Handmade symposium is slated for 1st and 2nd October 2015 in
Nairobi.

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###

Appendix 1
Welcome to Afrika Handmade 2014!
Thank you for being an early adapter of this grand new idea!
Since 2012, we have been providing a bi-monthly forum where craft entrepreneurs get
together to share ideas, experiences and resources. This forum, known as Jumpstart
Thursday, has allowed us to appreciate the value of gathering like-minded individuals
especially in a sector that is often characterised by silo tendencies.
Afrika Handmade is Jumpstart Thursday on a larger scale. The event will provide an
opportunity for emerging and established designers, government, academia, media and
others to network, get to find out who is doing what, share resources and ideas and possibly
create collaborative opportunities.
Afrika Handmade is also a celebration of innovation and design within the contemporary
craft sector. This is a genre that has suffered the backlash of a narrow definition of what
comprises the sector. For most people, the beginning and end of crafts is at Maasai market,
driven by tourism and characterised by little or no product differentiation. It is time we
started shifting that perception, for the simple but powerful reason that the domestic and
regional market offers a viable consumer base for quality handmade products.
Indeed, research shows that over 60% of potential customers have never bought
contemporary craft because they do not know it exists. They are not aware of your enterprise,
your product or where to find you.
The next two days will be an opportunity to, among other things, explore ideas into how we
can begin to define new market opportunities and tap into them.
I welcome you to network, explore and thrive with Afrika Handmade 2014.
Here is to a fantastic event!
Christine Gitau

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Convener, Afrika Handmade 2014

Appendix 2
Time
9:30- 11:30pm
[Plenary session]

Session title
Kenyan Made for the
Kenyan Consumer:
Building a Sustainable
Domestic Market

Speaker
 Danda Jaroljmek [Circle Art
Agency]
 Jacqui Resley [Spinners Web]
 Goodie Mzuri [Goodies]

Moderator
Flora Okuku

11:30-12:00 break
12:00-1:00pm open spaces

Breakout session2

9:30-11:30pm
[Plenary session]

Taking it to the Next
Level: When Craft
Meets Design

Enabling a Thriving
Craft Sector:
Conversations with
Government


2:00- 4:00pm
Mini workshop1

Consumer Insight:
Market trends to
watch out for in 2015

Anthony Mulli [Katchy
Kollections]
Beatrice Mwasi [SanaBora
Designs]

Jacinta Kioko

Catherine Kahuria [Kenya
Copyright Board, KECOBO]
Rebecca Mpayeei [Export
Promotion Council]
Charles Tumbo [Export
Promotion Council]

Professor Pido

Connie Aluoch [Connie Aluoch
Styling Management]

Closing

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Breakout session1

Sam Imende

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2:00-4:00pm

1:00-2:00pm lunch
New Business Models
 Bernard Outah [World Fair
for Contemporary
Trade Organization]
Craft & Design
 Shruti Patel [Savannah Chic]
 Kate Mahugu [Soko]

ABOUT CRAFT AFRIKA
www.craftafrika.org
craft@craftafrika.org
https://www.scribd.com/craft3348
www.facebook.com/CraftAfrika
https://twitter.com/Craftafrika
+254 732 98 2226
As a social enterprise, Craft Afrika is involved in creating opportunities that enable viable and
dynamic craft and design enterprises.
The creative industry in Kenya and Africa as a whole suffers from weak infrastructural
support, making it extremely difficult for creative entrepreneurs to make a decent living from
their craft practice.
In this regard, Craft Afrika was set up to address gaps in two specific areas: knowledge
sharing [including business and technical skills training as well as mentorship] and market
development [including market access].
1. Knowledge sharing
Activities under this program include
[a] Our bi-monthly community forum known as Jumpstart Thursday: The half day event
allows stakeholders to congregate and discuss the opportunities and challenges they
encounter in running craft enterprises. To date, we have hosted over 700 craftpreneurs and
we are proud to see how diverse and rich the community has become.
[b] Research, aggregation and dissemination of information on the sector: Through our social
media and online library on Scribd, we collate and distribute information on the sector
2. Market development
Our market development efforts are geared mainly towards domestic and regional markets.
The main activity under this program is the annual Afrika Handmade symposium, whose

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market opportunities while strengthening existing ones.

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objective is to create visibility for contemporary craft and design, thereby opening up new