Zambia handicraft traders look to digital marketing for survival

Friday, June 12th, 2020 00:00 |
File photo taken shows residents at the Kabwata Cultural Village, a heritage site in Lusaka, capital of Zambia. A visit to the heritage site shows that business has been slow due to travel restrictions aimed at containing COVID-19 pandemic in the country. (Xinhua/Lillian Banda)


As COVID-19 continues to cause economic upheavals to many sectors of the global economy, in Zambia entities in the tourism and artifact businesses are now barely surviving while others have been forced to close their businesses.

A visit to Kabwata Cultural Village, one of Zambia's cultural heritage sites and a tourist place known for curios and a range of handcrafted products situated in the nation's capital Lusaka, revealed that business has been very slow if not nonexistent.

The place that is known to be a hive of activity almost throughout the year and particularly busy from April to September is now noticeably quiet and deserted with huts that serve as stands for merchandise abandoned.

The traders at the site who are involved in the making and selling of a range of handicraft depicting Zambian and African culture and wildlife complained that the business worsened in the past three months.

"The situation is dire. The majority of traders whose only source of income is either the making or selling of handicrafts are at the brink of destitution," lamented Memory Mwenda, a trader specializing in the sale of handmade jewellery.

And a sculptor, Eddie Muyunda said that the only thing that has kept him going is his passion for making the carvings, something he has been doing for the past 40 years, and from which he has been deriving his sustenance.

"I have not been able to sell anything for over a week now. The other week I only managed to sell a small piece of artefact which was worth about K50 (about three US dollars)," Muyunda said.

However, both Mwenda and Muyunda expressed hope that with the attainment of strategic marketing skills which they hope to obtain through training in digital marketing, the situation would improve and their business is revived. Plans are underway to have e-commerce training for traders at the site to enable them to manage their businesses better.

Other traders at the site also indicated that learning how to conduct business using internet-based tools would help revive their businesses and looked forward to learning new ways of selling their products and acquainting themselves with internet marketing skills.

Craftsman Bonwell Kalilakwenda is optimistic that with the right information and skills, handicraft traders can still manage to make headway in their respective businesses further stating his team is working on modalities of e-trade sessions.

Kalilakwenda also implored the Zambian government to encourage more local tourists by putting in measures that encourage locals to take an interest in exploring the country's arts and culture.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly brought to light the fact that our tourism industry has been supported largely by visitors from outsiders. We need to begin to aggressively encourage more local people to enjoy what the country has to offer," Kalilakwenda said.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, tourism is currently one of the most affected sectors with vulnerable groups within the sector being among the hardest hit. (Xinhua)

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