A Bulawayo based weaver, Bongiwe Ndlovu, says despite the Zimbabwean economic climatic condition, she is still floating above waters through being innovative in her work which usher in new models of craftworks.
The 29-year-old business lady told 263Chat recently that although the crafts industry is tough, as is the case with any industry, she is determined to make a name for herself and weave her own path to success.
Ndlovu who has no formal employment and relies on her weaving business for survival is of the view that, if properly supported, craftwork has the potential to be a key economic enabler.
“Sharing success stories I’m only 29 been doing this for three years. With no formal employment, craft has kept me above the financial waters, I’m surviving working in the comfort of my home and spending time with family. I know of one young lady aged 30 who is now based in Tanzania and doing serious exports.
“If only more people can come forward and share their stories I believe the doubting Thomas can believe,” she said.
Contrary to popular beliefs, Ndlovu says, one can earn a decent living through artworks and encourages young people to take it up as a career.
She stated that the challenge is that most people have not warmed up to craftwork and there is a need to attract more local markets hence she has been innovative in her works.
“When I began, some people were not exactly welcoming but then, later on, they started understanding its nature. Both the young and old keep asking about the new designs I’m cooking. It’s an old craft that our great grandparents used, I’m only bringing it out with new designs and styles,” she says.
“If one has creative thinking then why should they not take up the craft? Part of this takes us back to how our great grandparents used to live, it brings out understanding and some form of connection, ROOTS
“To encourage other young people in attaining financial freedom I’ve offered free training lessons and I’m proud to say one of them managed to enrol at Hillside Teachers College which was her ultimate dream,” Ndlovu said.
She encouraged locals to start appreciating and promoting craftwork as most of her markets are foreign tourists.
“It’s a pity that most of the local people do not appreciate art, most clients emanate from tourists who would have made purchases during their tour. I have since engaged in export markets on a low scale though but hoping to expand,” she adds.
The biggest problem, however, is a lack of financial support and Ndlovu believes the corporate sector needs to chip in and support the industry.
“To a lesser extent yes (there is a lack of support to arts). However a lot of people have developed the skills and their existence is not recognized at all I’m thinking that’s why maybe they are not being supported,” she said.