The New Times (Kigali)

5 December 2012

Rwanda Admitted to World Craft Council

MORE Rwandan made crafts will grace the global market following the country's admission to the World Craft Council.

World Craft Council is a global organisation that focuses mainly on hand made items to foster market accessibility for member countries.

Speaking to The New Times, WCC's vice president for Africa, Janet Nkubana, the co-owner of Gahaya Links, revealed that for the first time, Rwanda participated in the council's general assembly.

Nkubana, who also doubles as the President for the East African region, said that Rwanda's handworks and crafts stand to gain exposure from the council's membership.

"Through the World Craft Council, Rwandan crafters can now access more technology and be affiliated to top international design schools that will train the Rwandans who make crafts and artpieces," she said.

Nkubana said that an evaluation will be conducted for most handiwork products at the regional level.

She noted that volume has been a big barrier. For instance, there are products Rwanda makes but can't produce them in big volume, which calls for cooperation with other East African countries in order to benefit from the international market.

Another key constraint, according to Nkubana, has been lack of information on how Rwandan handiwork and crafts can get onto the international market.

Through training, more Rwandans will learn how to produce handiwork that conforms to the international standards, she added. Nkubana stated that WCC advocates for intellectual property rights, therefore Rwandan handiwork products will now be safe and not be taken advantage of through reproduction.

"People have been taking our designs, duplicating our works but now that we are a member of WCC, our handiwork and craft work can't be duplicated. Our designs and works will be protected through the intellectual property rights of the artisans. Rwandans will directly be credited for their art/craft work," she observed.

Consolate Deborah Djamilahj, a Volunteer Project Manager for Ubuzima, a project for HIV positive women who make craft and handiwork for a living, said their biggest challenge is market. She said she hoped Rwanda's joining of the council will help avail market, especially for the vulnerable women whose livelihoods depend on craft and handiwork.

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