World Craft Council – a global organisation that focuses mainly on hand-made items to foster market accessibility for member countries during this year, 2012, revealed that Rwanda’s first participation in the council’s general assembly has gained itself admission to the council.
WCC’s vice president for Africa, Janet Nkubana, the co-owner of Gahaya Links who also doubles as the President for the East African region, said that Rwanda’s handiworks and crafts stand to gain exposure from the council’s membership.
Nkubana said 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 art-pieces.
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.
“I hope Rwanda’s joining of the council will help avail market, especially for the vulnerable women whose livelihoods depend on craft and handiwork,” Djamilah 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 said.
Nkubana added 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,” she reiterated.
“Rwandans will directly be credited for their art/craft work,” she added.
The country’s admission to the World Craft Council will enable more Rwandan made crafts to grace the global market.