The Success of Creativity – Madilika Craft Center
It all started with a group of 80 women in the rural communities of Justicia, Huntington and Lillydale, who came together to utilize their passion of producing crafts, which would not only keep them busy but, more importantly, support their livelihoods. This group called their business “Madilika,” which means “crumbling walls” in the local Shangaan language.
They formed a co-operative and, with their diverse skills, ideas and visions of where they wanted to go, it became evident that to succeed, they needed to agree on what their priorities were so that they could focus on taking those initiatives forward. In time, their numbers reduced, leaving a core group of 20 members, who persevered in producing crafts. They soon realized that there was interest in beading and producing raw materials to make jewelry. With this drive, the group approached Africa Foundation for assistance to build a center from which they could work and showcase their offerings. In 2012, a proper center, ablutions and a perimeter fence were developed.
Today, the Madilika Craft Center is a landmark in the Justicia community, boasting a fresh new look after a recent revamp of the interior to enhance the display areas. This must-see attraction is ideally positioned at the entrance of the Sabi Sand Reserve, which is home to over 35 privately-owned game reserves and lodges. The convenience of its location means that visitors to these reserves are encouraged to stop-off for a browse and buy magnificent pieces of locally handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs.
A project of collaboration
Behind the success that Madilika enjoys today is a journey that has seen the collaboration of Madilika Craft Center, Africa Foundation and Global Gift Innovators, who have teamed up to assist in making Madilika Craft Center a sustainable and profitable business enterprise. For the past year, this alliance has driven the process of developing principles, structures and systems that can be replicated at other similar centers. The fruits of the commitment to develop passionate and creative crafters are paying off. For the first time since Madilika’s existence, the center is attracting the clientele it sought to reach – guests from the neighboring reserves – and its revenues are generating profits for the individual members of the group. With the business and financial skills training that has taken place, members are now able to purchase their own materials to replace inventory that has been sold. Training and coaching on producing larger numbers of products, including sought-after jewelry, and stock controls, pricing, and accounting principles are all significant for sustainability of this business model and center.
The cumulative successes of Madilika Craft Center include setting targets to increase the number of visitors, and to date, the Center has seen its revenue grow to over $19,000 since January 2016 with over 1,000 visitors, allowing the members to set aside 5% of their sales into a reserve account. Transparent accounting and record-keeping systems ensure that members, for the first time, have access to accounting information with each member understanding the inflow and outflow of money.
These are the early days of a successful journey, with the center aiming to generate revenues of at least $69,000 in two years’ time. Madilika Craft Center is an example of the success that can be attributed to collaboration by seeking synergies with like-minded groups and individuals. The entrepreneurial expertise of Global Gift Innovators, the developmental expertise of Africa Foundation and the willingness and passion of the Madilika Craft Center members are the result of trust, endurance and dedication of these parties to drive success.