MASERU - It is no hidden fact that the growth of the country’s economy is a result of a good growing business. However, though everyone knows of this fact, some still do not take some of the businesses seriously, taking the crafters for one.
Molateli Talanyane and Lintle Mokotoi, the owners of Mlatz Afro Designs are of the view that artistic work is not taken seriously in Lesotho although it can also contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.
“We believe that the craft business does not get enough exposure that it deserves. We want it to be recognized across the
country because its growth is not only going to benefit only the artists but their brothers and sisters who are faced by the big challenge of unemployment”, they stressed.
The two talented artists, who are certain that a good artist constitutes many thing, among them creativity, good quality work, good packaging and reasonable prices, revealed that one other thing that seems to be an obstacle of artistic work growing is lack of marketing skills.
“Yes, we do try to advertise through various platforms as well as attending exhibitions and fashion shows. Nonetheless, the business does not grow at the pact that we expect”, the pointed out.
For the love of what they do, the two partners now hold exhibitions for other artists near LNDC Centre still with the aim of seeing the industry grow. It is their wish to see more agencies and government departments taking keen interest in the arts and crafts business as a meaningful contributor to the national fiscus.
Disclosing Mlatz Afro Designs plans Talanyane said, “Through Botho Arts and Culture Trust (BACT), we are going to visit primary schools with the aim of giving out skills of what we do so that the children can grow with the love of what is produced in their own country.”
Mlatz Afro Designs is a registered business which produces Afro-centric materials. It started in 2009 as a sole proprietorship. Just like any other businesses, it had its own ups and downs, but because of passion the owners of the company would not let go.
The company started by making woolen crotchet caps, hats and hand bags. Later they diversified into other products made out of natural materials. Now the duo has a working space in Maseru East where they manufacture a wide range and impressive and artistically designed products, among them their own version of the Basotho hat. Owners of the company are pretty satisfied with the way it is doing, still keeping in mind that their dream of exporting their products abroad is not too far off.
Meanwhile, the Government of Lesotho, through the World Bank was last week given US$ 13.4 million (about M1.8 billion) for the second phase of the Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP II). In this project the government will aim to promote private sector-led economic growth and job creation in line with the World Bank’s goals to reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity for the poorer people of the world.
At the presentation ceremony, it was mentioned that part of the funds will be used to create a linkages program between small firms such as Mlatz Afro Designs and large ones. The money would also be used for the construction of a Tourism and Handicraft Information Center that can serve as a reference point and retail centre for tourists and local artistes.
This comes as good news to Mlatz Afro Designs as the PSCEDPII will work to further economic diversification through continued support of the handicrafts sector. Several other organisations such as Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (Bedco) and the ministries of Tourism as well as Industry and Trade have been doing a lot in the areas of support for the arts and crafts sectors.