Friday 23 April 2021
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The push and pull business – the Craft hub

The creative arts industry is perceived as still young in the country but a sight of the craft centre in Okahandja shows quite the contrary. From small, to much bigger carvings, creativity at its best is displayed across the entrance of the town. Here craft experts sell of their pieces in hope of making profits to sustain their families.
But business has not been so promising over the years especially for 23-year old Aron Simpembe and the rest of his business partners at the centre. Aron started doing business with his father seven years ago after falling in love with working with wood from a very young age. While hoping to make a living, Aron has come to discover the difficulty in making daily saving saying it is not a guarantee any longer because customers are season bound.
“It is a push and pull here. Business has been very quiet for some time now. It is only during mid-year that we have clients especially foreigners. Otherwise, the local people are not so keen in craft. So it is a challenge,” said the young craftsman.
With almost no platform or expertise to market their business, they all rely on tour guides from different tour-operating companies to drive past the craft centre with tourists who will hopefully buy. Otherwise, they have to compete with locals who buy crafts at cheaper prices and sell closer to the tourists’ accommodation.
With the crisis their business faces, Aron and his father still depend on the sale of their carving to support a family of six, an effort that is jeopardized by the slow pace of making profit. “This business is a hand to mouth here. You get N$10 here today and you buy bread tomorrow. And everything that comes out of here has to feed the family of six. You cannot even save.”
Asked how much he can make in a day, he said he is unable to estimate because daily clients are not guaranteed. However, if he is able to sell big pieces, it is then all good.
Despite the hardships his business faces, Aron says it is because of passion that he is still in it. “I ventured in this business because I grew up in this. The love for it was always there. I love arts, I love woods and I love my things here. However, people today do not like arts. And it’s against our growth that our very own black people have no interest. It’s only the white people who support.”

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