The Seychelles' government wants the private sector to help develop the Artisans des Iles shop in the Camion Hall building in the capital Victoria to elevate the platform for local artists, the entrepreneurship minister said on Tuesday.
"The ministry will be relooking and has been relooking at the operations of the Artisan des Iles shop which has been suffering tremendously from operational negligence and lack of resources. More commercially viable options needed to be explored in order to keep the shop operational," said the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot, during her speech to mark the 30th anniversary of Camion Hall.
She outlined that "in order to retain the purpose that the shop was set out to serve, we are working on issuing an expression of interest to be made to the private sector to carry out the exact same function as the present Artisan des Iles shop."
"The benefit will be an opportunity for the private sector to engage with the government to develop and take this platform for local artisans to a higher level," the minister continued.
The shop located on the ground floor of Camion Hall is mandated to sell locally crafted products of the artisans of Seychelles. Vidot said that looking at the ministry's vision to boost the exports of local products, Camion Hall represents a huge potential to the current and upcoming businesses for the creation, development, and sale of these products.
"With our soon to emerge Seychelles-made brand, we will also see opportunities for wider exposure internationally. Looking ahead, we will continue to identify ways in which Camion Hall can further facilitate business ventures," she added.
Megdee Morgan, who has been working at Camion Hall for the past 17 years, said that the building was established with the aim of helping with the development of craftsmanship in the country.
"I have witnessed a lot of change. I have made acquaintance with a lot of people and this is one of my accomplishments," said Morgan.
Established in 1991, the building was under the management of Corporation Development de L'Artisanat. This is how the building became known as CODEVAR by locals instead of Camion Hall.
Under the guidance of Michelle de Lacoudraye-Harter, Camion Hall became the centre of the craft development project. Live training sessions and exhibitions were also held and it was considered a tourist attraction where tourists were able to visit the exhibition and also observe the training ongoing at the time of their visit.
Weekends saw craft fairs, exhibitions, and musical shows held in the garden space. During the week, training courses in papier-mache, etching, and other such arts and crafts courses were run.
To coincide with the occasion, the Enterprise Seychelles Agency (ESA) -which has been managing Camion Hall since 2018 - organised an exhibition that gives an insight into the establishment's journey from 1991 to 2021.
The exhibition being held in the Artisans des Iles shop also showcases the building's transformation under different institutions reminding people of those who were at the forefront, and have contributed at large to its evolution. It also shows some of the best locally made products by Seychellois artisans.
The chief executive of the ESA, Angelic Appoo, said that the Agency's Act of 2018 has broadened the categories of businesses under its management to micro, small and medium enterprises of all sectors compared to only the handicraft sector when it first started with CODEVAR.
"ESA is still pushing for the development of local artisans. We have an action plan to revive this sector to its full capacity as artisans are the backbone of our culture and heritage and we must work with them, not against them. My aim for this property is to further its potentials, ensuring that we can bring back the original concept as well. ESA is mandated under its act to provide capacity building and skills development," said Appoo.