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Update from Erica Elk: We’re changing our name!

Friday, 11 August 2017   (1 Comments)
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We’re changing our name!

From this moment on we are no longer CCDI but the CDI. The Craft + Design Institute.

The name change represents a clear signal that we are now a national craft and design sector development organisation supporting businesses and sector development in all nine provinces.

It is a landmark moment in our history which was initiated in November 2015 when the CCDI Board took a decision to expand our mandate to the whole of South Africa.

The change is borne out of both challenge and opportunity. Two sides of the same coin.

I wrote about the context that gave rise to this decision in some detail in a January 2016 message signalling this change to our mandate as well as our establishment of three for-profit entities as part of our sustainability strategy.

Over the past 18 months we have done much and learnt more; and been thrown many unexpected curveballs along the way. In short, the challenges have increased – but, thankfully, so have the opportunities – or at least the promise of possibilities.

But this is par for the course, in South Africa – indeed in the world – circa 2017.

Over the past year our team has been challenged to take our services across the country. And we have done so successfully – we have conducted a business and product development workshop series in every single province and received incredibly positive feedback. The message clearly is “more please”.

In 2016, we also launched a new national digital portal geared to becoming South Africa’s biggest online platform dedicated to showcasing beautiful craft and design products made locally – this platform has grown rapidly and already showcases over 2 000 beautiful products.

And this weekend we launch the first ever Design Directory at Decorex, which we published in partnership with Africa Press and hope, alongside the digital Peek platform, will become the go-to-handbook for the trade stimulating B2B and B2C connections (more on this soon).

As we have been rolling out our national activities (iterating and prototyping in a lean and agile way, as the latest trends in business would describe) – working closely with provincial and national partners in the public sector, and increasingly with civil society and the private sector – we have come to see that it is time for this exciting evolution.

While we have always been a South African organisation first – working for the good of South African creative businesses contributing to the national economy – the focus of our day-to-day work has historically been with creative SMEs in the Western Cape because that is where our primary funding was sourced. (And of course that is where we were founded – in days when it was thought possible to establish institutions just like ours all over the country.)

Now for the first time in our history, the Western Cape Government is no longer funding our small enterprise development work in the province – a consequence of their new economic strategy that does not prioritise the Creative Industries despite its huge contribution to inclusive growth in the local and tourism economy. As a result we have had to significantly cut back on the services we offer to SMEs in the province relying only on funding from the City of Cape Town and the national Department of Small Business Development to do so.

With scaled back work in the Western Cape and increasing work in other provinces, the reality is that we are now operating as a national organisation. And so our name now needs to reflect the broadness of our vision and mandate and our commitment to the development of the sector across the whole country.

We are very excited about the possibilities that are opening up because of this.

We will continue to support the provision of our core services to individuals and SMEs in the craft and design sector; and our sector development work and design process facilitation with the public and private sector will continue.

But as a national organisation we will be able to unlock greater opportunities, build more enduring partnerships, create greater benefits and expand services to all our member companies.

Of course we can only expand this reach as far as resources allow – and we will need to deliver our services and support differently.

Delivery of such expanded services cannot be based on the building of a huge organisation with expensive infrastructure and overheads. It is too expensive and ‘old fashioned’ in many ways.

Besides there are already many many individuals, organisations and agencies hard at work in developing the sector at ground level – and we have no desire to duplicate their good work or compete with them. There is so much to be done; and the roles and needs are so varied and numerous that it needs us all – playing different and complementary roles – in a coordinated way – if we are to realise the full potential of the sector.

We know – from our work in the Western Cape over the last 16 years – that there are no quick fix solutions; developing resilient and sustainable SMEs is a long process that principally requires access to markets, networks and resources. And even though we have a surfeit of talent and passion, individuals in our sector need support with developing their business skills and market access through sustained exposure and opportunities – which usually happens best, at least initially, at a local level. Without this they remain trapped in survivalist mode.

And while the advent of the ‘4th industrial revolution’ may help level the playing fields, a further danger exists that those already on the margins continue to be marginalised by high costs, limited access and digital dexterity.

Businesses in our sector can’t be left behind in the digital revolution – whether they are in rural Limpopo, Mpumalanga or Free State – or the burgeoning metros of Cape Town, Jhb or Durban. So the CDI as a national organisation needs to design and deliver its services in ways that help people embrace the digital age.

Our strategy has to combine analogue activities (face-to-face personal contact) with effective digital platforms; and we need to do this by leveraging off the content, resources and the sector development expertise we have accumulated over the last 16 years; alongside our current and new partners.

This is the path we are on – with many new initiatives in this vein already in the pipeline. So watch this space!

It has taken huge effort, abundant passion and unquantifiable resources and goodwill to get us to this point. In this we have not been alone – our success is testament to the support, counsel and encouragement provided by a multitude of people over the years. The names would fill many pages –and we will find ways to acknowledge you over the coming months as our plans evolve.

In the meantime, please share your views with us and tell us how we have helped you over the years so that we can share your success story with others to inspire them! You can email me personally with your thoughts and your story.

We invite you to join us on this next stage of our amazing journey. And look forward to working with you to continue creating the extraordinary!

Erica Elk
Executive Director

The Craft and Design Institute

16 years | by numbers

[That is 5840 days – in which time we raised R52 000/day, achieved R14 000/day in media coverage; created 8 opportunities a day for member companies]

From our humble beginnings in 2001 in the Western Cape, today we support thousands of creative people and businesses all over South Africa.

As our story goes, we started with a list of 63 craft producers – we now have over 4 300 members registered on our database who employ, using a multiplier of 3, or provide income opportunities to, 11 100 people. Our members have benefited from over 45 000 trade, product and business development opportunities.

We have unlocked R223m in direct funding to support sector development and raised R53m investment funds for 660 SMEs; stimulated direct trade of R43m to participating companies and generated R80m in media value to promote the sector.

Recent research we commissioned into the value of design retail in the Cape Metro shows that the sector easily generates at least R400m worth of retail trade which goes directly in to the local economy as 77% of the suppliers are from the province.

Our core services to individuals and SMEs in the craft and design sector include:

Business and product development workshops
Market access support and opportunities
Access to investment and grant funding
Mentorship and coaching
Exclusive discounts and benefits with our strategic partners
Access to the latest information on opportunities in the market


swit multi-serv. says...
Posted Monday, 21 August 2017
Many thanks to the entire team at CDI for the 16yrs journey well traveled.

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