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CDI assists with market access for MeerKAT Creative Community Initiative – R100 000 in orders

Tuesday, 17 December 2019  
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Earlier this year the CDI completed a skills development project for 19 craft producers with the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) in the Northern Cape. The project established the MeerKAT Creative Community Initiative (MCCI) as an effective upskilling intervention programme in Carnarvon, Vanwyksvlei, Brandvlei and Williston. We are now assisting SARAO with the facilitation of orders from the craft producers that were trained – a first order of over R100 000 was completed of products for a SARAO conference this month.


The SKA project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre of collecting area. The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), a facility of the National Research Foundation, is responsible for managing all radio astronomy initiatives and facilities in South Africa, including the MeerKAT Radio Telescope in the Karoo.

Carnarvon, Williston, Van Wyksvlei and Brandvlei are small towns that surround the telescope’s core in the Northern Cape. These communities are faced with social and economic challenges and limited job opportunities. The Northern Cape province is the largest province in terms of the area which it covers with the smallest population of any of the nine provinces. Within the Northern Cape there is a significant need and opportunity for the upgrading and upscaling of the province’s tourism products, which if done correctly, could result in job creation, skills development and economic growth.

SARAO initiated the MeerKAT Creative Community Initiative (MCCI) aiming to create an effective upskilling and intervention programme in Carnarvon, Van Wyksvlei, Brandvlei and Williston. The end goal is to source craft makers from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-resourced communities, provide them with creative skills training, as well as basic business and marketing skills, and introducing them to the first steps in how to run sustainable businesses.


SARAO appointed the CDI to implement a six-month pilot programme, managed by the SARAO Commercialisation Unit. A series of workshops focusing on design, creative skills training and developing quality products unique to the Karoo was conducted by the CDI. See our April 2019 news here for more on this training.

The facilitation of orders of products for the SARAO Bursary Conference taking place this month is the beginning of the next phase of the CDI’s partnership with SARAO. The products of ten craft producers were selected.


“On completion of our skills development project, SARAO aimed to provide market access opportunities to the MCCI craft businesses. SARAO commissioned the CDI to provide an order facilitation service that entails the management of order fulfilment for conference bags and various corporate gift items from the MCCI craft businesses. This is a further step towards empowering the businesses to start engaging with the market and entrenching their businesses into the mainstream of economic activity and sustainability while still receiving much needed support,” says Rosemary Cooke, who manages the CDI’s business and creativity training activities.

Apiwe Hotele, Technology Commercialisation Specialist at SARAO, says that the order facilitation process played an integral part in ensuring that the order was delivered on time and that items were of good quality.

“Most of the crafters have never handled bulk orders, and the assistance they received from CDI helped them a lot. Furthermore, materials are scarce in the Northern Cape, and having access to someone that can purchase material was useful."

Here’s what some of the beneficiaries had to say about the opportunity:

“The CDI training helped me to discover skills that I've never thought would help me earn money for myself.” – Stefanus Titeties

“SARAO is great and cares a lot for others, especially for those who want to be successful and who want to make the future brighter. Love this project!” – Maria Lackay       


See here for a directory of the products that can be ordered.

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