Kwazulu-Natal Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  21 Nov 2011

BANKING: Nedbank Invests in KZN Craft and Tourism Industry


Recent Kwazulu-Natal Business News

Nedbank Business Banking has provided R200 000 of grant funding to rural development agency Africa!Ignite for the newly established WOWZULU craft and tourist marketplaces in KwaZulu-Natal.

The funds have been provided as part of Nedbank Business Banking’s Enterprise Development programme and will be used to purchase stock for the four new hubs. This initiative drives home Nedbank’s commitment to support and develop existing and emerging entrepreneurs. 'Nedbank understands the limitations most start-up organisations experience in terms of access to funding and training programmes, as well as access to markets, and through our Enterprise Development programme we provide solutions to these challenges,' says Jenny Goddard, Head of Nedbank Business Banking's Inland Region.

Africa!Ignite is a non-government organisation that focuses on the development and support of rural and marginalised communities across KwaZulu-Natal by creating partnerships to facilitate fair participation in the economy.

Sourcing and managing market access in the craft industry remains a critical element of sustainability, and Africa!Ignite seeks to address this gap by setting up ‘tourist' marketplaces – or WOWZULU marketplaces – in KwaZulu-Natal’s rural and most impoverished areas. The main objectives of these marketplaces are to help local crafters and other entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, and to create jobs in rural areas where there is abject poverty and high unemployment.

How Nedbank Aims to Help

The WOWZULU marketplaces will sell contemporary, yet authentic Zulu crafts and products, and experiences in established tourist areas. The first four marketplaces are situated at King Shaka International Airport, Lake Eland Game Reserve in Oribi Gorge, on the R22 tourist route up to the Mozambican border and at the Isandlwana Museum at the Battlefields in the Umzinyathi District. Each hub is linked to strategic partners in the vicinity and procures stock from local craft groups.

The WOWZULU experience includes shopping at a craft shop selling a mix of localised items fusing the area’s best craft techniques with great design, and a centrally designed range of products. By watching crafters at work, tourists can admire and learn their techniques. The experience also includes introductions to local history and culture; descriptions of the natural environment and interesting places and people; area maps showing local attractions; and coffee shops on the R22 and at the museum.

Nedbank Looking to Make a Difference

These marketplaces directly benefit 316 people: four site owners, 12 staff who are employed as shop managers and salespeople, coffee shop staff, interpreters and storytellers, 60 crafters and 240 community members, including food gardeners and entertainers. It is expected that approximately 560 employment opportunities will be created at an anticipated eight WOWZULU destinations to be established over the next two years.

Adds Goddard, 'We are delighted at the opportunity to extend our partnership with Africa!Ignite even further through assisting WOWZULU with much-needed capital to acquire stock. We are confident that this exciting initiative will go from strength to strength in the true spirit of enterprise development.'

Wilna Botha, CEO of Africa!Ignite, says that the organisation is ecstatic about the grant funding from Nedbank, since it increases the organisation’s ability to help ensure the success of WOWZULU. ‘In the past we have simply not had enough disposable income to stock the WOWZULU marketplaces properly. We are very grateful to our long-term partner Nedbank for assisting us in this critical area of need.’

Africa!Ignite recently won the Transnet/Durban Chamber of Commerce ‘KwaZulu-Natal’s Emerging Exporter of the Year Award’, as well as a special BEE award for its contribution to rural enterprise development through exports.

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