NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – International volunteering programme VSO Jitolee has organised a handicraft seminar to address repositioning and improve the competitiveness of the industry.
A statement from organisation touts the handicraft industry as an important element of the Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) sector. Its says statistical data on the value and volume of exports on a product-by-product basis indicates that export earnings from commercial handicrafts have steadily increased from approximately Sh449 million in 2001, to Sh550 million in 2006, and Sh760 Million in 2007; emphasizing the growing importance of the MSE sector and handicraft production in particular.
The workshop dubbed “Strengthening Kenya’s Competitive Edge: Challenges and Prospects for the Handicraft Industry” will seek to discuss and find ways to address challenges and prospects for the handicraft industry based on learning from VSO Jitolee’s Improved Sustainable Livelihoods (ISL) project.
“At the Handicraft Competitiveness seminar, we hope to address the challenges and opportunities for market access faced by our partners; emerging trends in the export market; as well as learning more about how to integrate ‘small’ producers into industry growth”, says Pauline Kamau, Secure Livelihoods Programme Manager at VSO Jitolee
“Through the support of the European Commission, VSO Jitolee is promoting the handicrafts sector via the implementation of a four-year project, Improved Sustainable Livelihoods for disadvantaged women (ISL),” said Ms Kamau.
“ISL is an initiative which seeks to support women in the Coast, Nairobi and Eastern provinces of Kenya engaging in handicrafts and fruit processing sectors to improve their household incomes through enhanced governance, increased product quality, capital access and policy influencing,” she explained.
VSO Jitolee says it believes that Kenyan women can be more competitive in the Handicrafts industry and have the potential to improve their well being through empowerment and poverty reduction.