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The CDI is a craft and design sector development agency with a mission to develop capable people and build responsible creative enterprises trading within local and international markets.


Over the years we have developed a range of activities to help improve creative businesses. We work with craft producers, designers and a wide range of other creative entrepreneurs. Whether you need a short course on how to cost your product or service, time in our Product Support space developing your latest idea, or support to access markets, we have a range of services to help you grow.

Our three core programmes are:

  • Product Support
    Provides an environment in which designers and craft producers can further develop their existing products or prototype new products.
  • Business Support
    Helps craft producers and designers to develop skills in creativity, business and production management, and marketing.
  • Market Support
    Assists designers and craft producers to define and reach their targeted markets. 


The CDI is a not-for-profit company and the activities and support we offer are subsidised to ensure everyone can have access. There is a small registration fee for our workshops, which contributes to materials and catering costs. Bursaries are also available. Variable participation fees are levied on market support platforms and/or a 20% commission on sales at CDI pop-up shops.


To access our services you must register as a member of the CDI. Registration is free.


There is no set starting point in your journey with the CDI – we assist you to determine your current needs and select the kind of support to best meet them. The support we offer is shaped around your unique needs, and hinges on individual consultations and your commitment to seeing processes through.


Initiated in 2001 as the Cape Craft and Design Institute, for the first decade of its existence, we were immersed in the development and promotion of the Western Cape craft and design sector, with a focus on elevating the value and appreciation of the handmade. The focus on craft per se was in-line with national and provincial policies, which had identified craft as a priority creative industry because of its potential to build the small business sector and create jobs.

At the time, the sector was dominated by a welfare and poverty alleviation approach that was not building sustainability or nurturing and developing talent and creativity. Value-laden stereotypes also made a problematic distinction between ‘design’ versus ‘craft’ – a reflection of South Africa’s history. We adopted a more integrated approach, viewing ‘craft and design’ as synergistic, mutually inclusive and part of a broader creative sector.

Our first priority was to prove the value and potential of the fledgling sector, and to focus on where primary activity and most urgent need were.

Today, the CDI has more than 4 000 creative enterprises on its database. We are the official implementing agency for the sector in the province and have  also been identified as a model craft and design hub by the national Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), serving as a role model for creative industry development in other Provinces of South Africa.


In 2012 the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) collaborated with the us and other key role-players to develop a Design Strategy to unlock innovation in the province. We have been tasked with driving the implementation of the strategy with a wide range of stakeholders.

A first for South Africa, the Western Cape Design Strategy broadly aims to achieve four things:

1. Design-ready businesses
To ensure sectors of the economy and civil society integrate design into their business and organisational practices to unlock innovation, competitiveness and progress

2. Business-ready design practitioners
To establish an enabling environment that supports a thriving design ecosystem and a competitive design industry

3. Design in the public sector
To ensure the transformation of a public sector into one that embraces design and design-thinking methodology in policy formation and practical implementation across all spheres and tiers of government

4. Involved citizens
To create public awareness and appreciation as to the value of design in every aspect of our lives, in particular towards socio-economic upliftment and a better quality of life for all.

The CDI has been mandated to play a central role in the coordination and facilitation of the strategy, and to implement various projects coming out of it. One of these projects is to foster the growth of design competencies and skills in the sector. Another is the Better Living Challenge, a competition to gather and showcase innovative, affordable and green home improvement solutions for low-income living.


Shado Twala (Chair) | Allettia Chisin | Andile Dyalvane | Howard Gabriels | Niall Kramer | Erica Elk (Executive Director) | Mhlanganisi Masoga | Paul Slack (Company Secretary) | Albertrum Crowder | Sukhthi Naidoo | Siphiwe Ngwenya | Mathokoza Nhlapo | Tina Retief

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