Arts for Africa, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands, was established in 2015 with a mandate to work together for a better, greener, and more independent future though the sale of art products. Arts for Africa has been instrumental in supporting Crafthood, and in turn, women within the Ngamiland District, by marketing their unique products in the Netherlands. It does so by seeking out collaboration with individuals, retailers, and other businesses.
Erick and Sylvia, two of the founders of this organisation, say that they focus on facilitating fair and ecologically responsible trade of African arts & crafts. Over the past year, they concentrated their efforts almost exclusively on Botswana baskets because of their broad appeal in the Netherlands. The unequalled quality and cultural significance of Botswana baskets gives them enormous potential to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods in the region.
However, working with basket weavers in rural Botswana has its challenges. Due to their beautiful designs and high quality, Botswana baskets are in high demand and as a result, production is often unable to keep up. Furthermore, delivery delays and high import taxes present challenges in pricing the baskets. However, Arts for Africa is determined to appropriately compensate workers and ensure they are making a living wage.
Despite these challenges, the Arts for Africa team are happy that in August this year they got the opportunity to meet some of Crafthood’s basket weavers. “We had a very warm welcome and we have learnt a lot from them,” Sylvia says, “It was wonderful to be able to share ideas and challenges we are facing and think about possible solutions together.”
Furthermore, Arts for Africa has found great success in finding retailers who want to collaborate with them and work towards creating sustainable income for the weavers. They even managed to sell quite a few baskets at several trade fairs.
Sylvia says the support from Travel for Impact has been marvellous and they believe that we can help create a ‘better Africa for People to live’ as long as we work together. “They are more than partners,” Sylvia says, in reference to Travel for Impact, “we have come to consider them as an extension of our team.”
She adds that TFI’s understanding of life in the rural communities has enabled Arts for Africa to work alongside hundreds of crafters; it has also allowed them to move forward on a basis of trust, a sense of common purpose. “We now know the traditional stories behind each basket design, the name of the weaver and the village she lives in. This adds much more meaning to the baskets we sell in the Netherlands,” Sylvia says.
If you are interested in learning more information about Arts for Africa or would like to purchase some of the beautiful baskets illustrated, please check out their website at: www.artsforafrica.nl