Online crafting marketplaces, like Etsy – www.etsy.com – have taken advantage of the online shopping craze. These marketplaces are comprised of individual retailers who market their own handiwork, crafts and vintage clothing. It’s a revolutionised version of eBay, where prices are set, and buyers are after unique and hand-crafted items. It’s a tribute to the creativity of individuals that still allows for a wide marketplace.
However, Etsy sellers are among the elite of craftspeople – not for their skills (although no one is doubting their talents), or the product they create. These types of marketplaces are available only to the technologically connected – meaning people who’ve grown up in a world of relative privilege.
But now, similar solutions are evolving to assist those craftsmen that need it the most – those in developing countries with limited access to technology and internet. These online marketplaces are aimed at providing 100% profit for participating artisans.
In rural communities across Africa handicraft is more than a tradition – it’s the only means of income for many families. In larger economies, such as South Africa, with a booming tourist trade, cities are inundated with the crafts produced in outlying villages. One would think that the largest obstacle is simply getting the product to the marketplace where tourists will pay top dollar for souvenirs. Even if local residents, wanting to display their African pride, drive the price down a bit, it’s a common assumption that rural artisans make a killing off their wares. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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