While Government is committed to the development of the craft sector, the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Basil Lavine, wants local artisans to market their craft items locally instead of focusing their attention on the export market.
He issued this word of advice as he pledged his agency’s continued support for the sector at the official opening last evening of the mini-exhibition under the theme Textiles, Jewelry and Glass – An Exhibition. The event took place in the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Craft Centre, Princess Alice Highway, St. Michael.
Mr. Lavine reasoned that in some instances, there was not enough craft in the island to adequately satisfy the tourist demand and this situation must be addressed.
“Sometimes what one fails to realise is that before you export, it is usually better to exploit the domestic market to the fullest. We live in a gloabalised market which means that we are open to imports and competition. Very often, when you are considering going abroad you are going into more competition.
“So, I do not know at this point of time, if it is the wisest thing to try to go abroad, when you have not even mastered all that there is in the local market. Please remember, that one of the main markets for craft is tourism and we are not always able to meet all the tourist demand. It is a matter of adopting the right strategies and getting out there, and this is where they need a lot of help. So, I am not sure at this point in time that the emphasis should be on trying to export and going abroad when you can’t even deal with the situation at home,” he warned.
He painted a picture of the sector as one that had scarce resources, inadequate product diversification to satisfy the needs of the public and the lack of access to markets in major outlets as factors which had impeded the development of the sector.
To provide more exposure for craft, the BIDC has established an Island Crafts outlet in order to minimise the impact of competition from imported craft items. Despite these challenges, Lavine said the BIDC was ready to assist the artisans in sustaining their businesses by providing some working finance. He also pledged to provide more space for the exposure of their products and to source resources at a cheaper price.
He outlined the BIDC’s role in preparing local artisans for their entry into the overseas markets. “There are a number of activities and technical assistance programmes under the aegis of the Entrepreneurial Development Division. Being an artisan and running a business is not the same thing. And, of course, this is where we [BIDC] come in to try to help them understand the basis of business management,” he stressed.
The display will take place from December 15 to Thursday, December, 18 and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.