The Handicraft and Souvenir Development Project (HSDP) Uganda, aims to develop the handicrafts sector in Uganda leading to improvement in livelihoods for some of the most marginalized communities in the country. The key focus of the project is on supporting production and sales of authentic locally produced quality crafts and souvenirs, which are in demand in domestic and regional tourist markets.The project is implemented by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) of Uganda with the technical partnership of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
Increased production of handicrafts and souvenirs of higher quality - The project will promote understanding and capacity of producers of handicrafts and souvenirs to comply with higher quality standards through the adoption of good practices in quality management.The handicrafts and souvenirs sector in Uganda faces capacity constraints such as low and inconsistent production in addition to inadequate quality and diversity of products.In light of these challenges, the project identified two areas for support to improve the quality of the products.1. Development of selected product standardsThe project assesses the need and identifies gaps in currently existing product standards in the handicraft and souvenir sector. Standards that are relevant for the sector support the stakeholders and companies to improve their products and assist in positioning themselves in higher quality market segments while being able to compete with imported products.In cooperation with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) project stakeholders are developing standards for handicraft products under the broad product categories: baskets, mats, leather and leather products, textiles and clothing, stationery and other products. Manufacturing of these products according to the new and revised standards will provide buyers with assurance of quality based on agreed and transparent product requirements.2. Supporting companies to introduce quality management systemsAchieving quality and meeting technical standards is often required from enterprises if they intend to access new markets and sustain existing ones. ISO 9001 has earned global recognition and acceptance as stipulating requirements that when implemented correctly give assurance of meeting customer requirements and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. The assistance on quality management systems is designed in a modular structure aimed at supporting the beneficiary enterprises from the first contact with the standard up until implementation of a Quality Management System by applying the principles of quality management for customer satisfaction.
Once a business has nailed its product offering, its success often lies on the linkages it manages to create and maintain with clients, suppliers, retailers and other business partners. Fostering these linkages is key to finding new business opportunities whether it involves pitching products to a new retailer or reaching clients through social media, a website or an article published on a blog or magazine.
Businesses in the creative sector need to have their hand on the pulse of the ever-changing shifts and trends taking place in society which directly impact customer needs and desires. Even creative businesses with timeless products, need to be aware of evolving aesthetics and ways of doing business.
For businesses with products connected to culture, it is important for them to link with their wider creative industry which is highly sensitive to sensing and adapting to shifts. As such for the HSDP, connecting the Ugandan craft sector to the Uganda’s budding creative industry is important - not just to tune into trends, but also because fruitful collaborations between creative entrepreneurs leads to business opportunities.
However successfully developing linkages requires certain base criteria to be met. Going to market without being fully prepared can become a business disaster: can the business deliver on a large order? Is their design and communication tailored to the needs of the market? Is their product quality up to market standards? Do their communications reflect the quality and price of their product?
The HSDP project looks at fostering quality and value rather than just quantity to support the Ugandan craft sector step into its excellence. The strategy is to position Ugandan handicrafts and souvenirs in the higher quality segment of the market drawing on the unique cultural characteristics of Uganda. An important focus will be supporting craft businesses develop their communication assets to support them in the establishment of market linkages.