In her vision 2020 document Rwanda has stated her intention to eradicate poverty through developing SME’s sector where craft industry is inclusive.
It has been identified as a major opportunity to boost the house hold income as it employs the majority of its rural population.
It also contributes to GNP as it employs a big number of people next to agriculture and industry.
In order to develop the local craft industry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Private Sector Federation (PSF) developed a well structured strategic plan to facilitate and speed up the development of this Craft sector which is expected to contribute significantly in the near future.
Currently, some of our craftspeople work in their cooperatives or firms on full-time basis and reports state that the sector has registered a tremendous change, but the majority of them do operate on part-time basis.
Craft industry sector, crafts or craft products are synonyms for artisan products, which is a component of creative industries which derive their origins from individual creativity, skill and talent that have a potential for job and wealth creation through the generation and exploitation of the individual’s intellectual property.
Creative industries encompass the following
i) Artisan products
ii) Visual arts
iii) Performing arts
iv) Cinema and audiovisual media
v) Multimedia, and
vi) Literature, books and publishing
The government of Rwanda has already identified the key priority export sectors and these include coffee, tea, flowers, leather, tourism, fruits, craft products and minerals.
Rwanda’s export sectors have been classified into two types: short-term high impact sectors (based on export revenues and potential employment) and medium- to long-term export diversification sectors.
The former category includes large current and potential industries such as coffee, tourism and tea. The latter includes existing and emerging sectors such as mining, horticulture, pyrethrum and craft products.
Basing on the government’s vision 2020 of reducing the percentage of agriculture farming from 80% to 50%, the Ministry of Trade and Industry recognizes the potential of the craft industry sector in generating employment and income to a greater percentage of rural population especially women, youth and people with disabilities in addition to earning foreign exchange for Rwanda.
Consequently, in collaboration with all the stakeholders especially RDB the Ministry of Trade and Industry seeks to enhance export development and growth of Rwanda’s craft products in the overall framework of the national export strategy and has also identified the need to syndicate and coordinate the disjointed interventions in the sector by the various NGO’s and public organizations concerned with rural entrepreneurship development and poverty eradication.
Craft industry sector strategic plan
Rwanda craft industry sector five year (2009-2013) strategic plan seeks to provide a systematic and action oriented framework for the purposeful development of the sector with particular emphasis on product and export market development. A strategic five year profile has been designed for the first phase of the program.
The sector strategic plan was conceived in the framework of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS). Specifically the strategic plan is premised on the basis that the sector has a high potential to engender a multi-pronged, gender focused, high rural production and high rural gender entrepreneurship enhancement.
It offers increasing opportunities for income generation and consequently poverty reduction, through market-oriented production of good quality, adequate and value added craft products for the local, tourist and export markets.
This strategic plan addresses issues such as global market trends for craft industries, export opportunities for Rwanda, analysis of the sector in terms of structure, organization, networks, support organizations and mechanisms for producers and exporters. Based on a sector value chain analysis, the strategy focuses on the need for product development and capacity building in the sector.
Tailor measured export market development strategies are proposed to address potential markets and possible market constraints. The plan seeks to operationalize various action plans intended to ground and strengthen the craft industry Sector as a viable export sector for Rwanda.
It identifies the framework for implementing the strategic actions, the stakeholders’ coordination and support mechanisms, and resource analysis and performance indicators.
MINICOM as the line ministry is committed to drive the process by coordinating the core sector programs, stakeholder involvement, resource mobilization and implementation.
The sector industries grew with neither well-established promotion nor an intervention strategy policy. The craft industries in Rwanda grew in an informal way. In most of these crafts, raw materials are locally produced. Some of the crafts produced are pottery, metal works, stone cutting, basketwork, pearl work, tanning.
Basketwork largely the agaseke basket is one of the Rwandan crafts that managed to be maintained and adopted to modern requirements.
It is worth noting that with the development of cities and towns, craft activities have increased and crafts have been developed such as modern carpentry, various repair activities, dressmaking.
The craft industries are an integral part of the culture of each nation and at the same time, they are an important component of the socio-economic life.
These industries generate jobs without expensive investment, and also put producers and users in their cultural identity. Moreover, the crafts developed in rural areas facilitate evading rural exodus to cities and is therefore a complementary and indispensable activity for peasants.
The Rwanda tourism policy indicates main orientations with regard to the development of that sector. Its implementation requires the help from different actors: policy makers, different stakeholders (NGOs, projects, development executives) and craftsmen. The overall objective of the policy for craft promotion is to increase the contribution of the craft sector in the national economy in order to alleviate poverty through job creation.
Diverse organizations and especially cooperatives are engaged in the craft industry Sector. They include; Modis International, Gahaya Links, AVEGA Agahozo, Co-operatives d’Artistes Plasticien de Kigali (CAPLAKI), Rwanda Art, Rwanda Heritage, African Heritage, Mode Savana, Fédération de Métiers de Gisenyi (FECOMEGI), Fédération de Collectifs Artisans d’ Umutara (FECAU), COPAK, COPABU, COPARWA, and others.
Current training programs
The various stakeholders, namely: MINICOM, RDB, PSF, PPPMER II and other development partners have been involved in training of the producers and traders. While the training has been very helpful in especially addressing the supply side issues,
The National crafts policy indicates main orientations with regard to the development of that sector. Its implementation requires the help from different actors: policy makers, different stakeholders (NGOs, projects, development executives) and craftsmen.
The government, through MINICOM, prepared a strategy and policy paper on the craft industries sector. This lies within the scope of a long-term vision (Vision 2020) and will focus on how to solve development problems related to this sector.
This policy paper aims at establishing a process for the development and organization of what already exists, and moving towards the creation of new organs in order to meet the long-term objectives of the sector.
The overall objective of the policy for craft industry promotion is to increase the contribution of the craft industry sector in the national economy in order to alleviate poverty, through job creation.
While the economic development and poverty reduction strategy attempts to integrate export trade in their frameworks through macro level and infrastructure policy redress, the reality on the ground is that these measures have not impacted sufficiently at the enterprise level.
The challenge of diversifying Rwanda’s export base can better be addressed when grassroots communities are actively involved in wealth creation through exports. Thus, “craft products for exports” offer a big opportunity in broadening the export base and achieving sustainable and integrated economic development.
Mainstreaming the organized producer groups in the economy and in particular through the export sector will contribute to income poverty reduction and satisfy key aspirations of the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
Craft products and tourism development
Rwanda’s National Tourism Policy was developed by MINICOM in February 2001. The policy direction is for Rwanda’s tourism development to be socially, culturally and environmentally acceptable and become a vehicle for poverty alleviation.
According to estimates, there are at least 420 associations active in the field, whereas about 100,000 persons might have full time jobs related to crafts, and some 850,000 more might be engaged in the sector on a part time basis.
The craft industries grew with neither well-established promotion nor an intervention strategy policy. The craft industries in Rwanda grew in an informal way. In most of these crafts, raw materials are locally produced.
Among the types of traditional crafts practiced in Rwanda and the production methods involved in historical perspective include basketry,tapestry,tailoiring,ceramics,leather and leather products, decoration, woodwork, construction, metal works, jewelry and jewelry products, food processing, imigongo (a specific painting tradition) leather, metal work, pottery.
According to RDB, very few tourists leave Rwanda without a memento, a craft industry sector souvenir or two purchased from the wayside vendors, local craft shops or market yards such as the National Museum, Butare. Craft villages/centers attract many tourists.
Most hotels and restaurants, in providing one-stop shop service to their clientele, have openings in their premises for Art and Craft exhibitions or sales.
The airport with the duty-free-shops provides an avenue for mopping up leftover tourist’s foreign currency on craft sales.
Local tourism as explained above is similarly growing as peace and security across the country, thus creating more demand for the craft industry Sector. Herein lies the potential, as tourism and craft industry sector trade go hand in hand.
The craft industry vision
This has been developed as a response to the need to enhance the development and readiness of the sector for rapid export growth.
RDB in collaboration with MINICOM and other sector stakeholders developed the strategy to orient the sector commercially with the vision: - “Mainstreaming the Craft Industry sector into Rwanda’s national economy with a view to promoting exports for employment and wealth creation’’.
The overall objective of the sector strategy
The development of the craft industry sector promotion strategy is driven by the overall Strategic objective: - “To build the capacity of craft producers and exporters in order to meet International standards and penetrate international markets’’
Rwanda’s craft industry sector export
RWANDA targets both domestic and international markets for its craft products. Domestic buyers are either Tourists or local buyers who serve as market intermediaries and sell on the local markets in urban areas or export directly to the export market.
Rwanda’s crafts trade is largely informal marked with inconsistent and adhoc market access, entry and penetration approaches, and inadequate market distribution networks.
Official craft export statistics for 2002 and 2003 reveal total export values of a paltry US$49,841 and US$ 63,535 respectively.
The vast majority of Rwanda’s craft products are not adequately captured by product classification and/or trade codes (Harmonized System). Even when data on production and trade are recorded by NISR, in national accounting systems and/or in international trade statistics, the majority of craft products is often grouped together with other products or included in the category “others” for lack of country specific HS classification.
Sector policy analysis and strategy formulation is thus undermined considerably by the very scanty official capture of craft export trade statistics.
Craft industry promotion strategy
The strategy takes a holistic view of the sector’s strengths and opportunities to exploit for export growth while recognizing weaknesses and attendant threats (SWOT) that need to be addressed for rapid export growth.
It recognizes that rapid export growth depends heavily on understanding the potentials and inadequacies of the sector and effectively providing alternative solutions.
It induces a framework for addressing the issues identified through the SWOT analysis in the context of the sector strategy template covering border-in, border, border-out and development issues.
Border-in issues are internal (in-country and enterprise level) and cross cutting issues that need redress. It is very critical to note that the craft industry sector is very dynamic and largely market sensitive. While the current focus in Rwanda has largely been on the export of agaseke, it is important to note that decorative items are normally one off purchases and very easy to saturate the market.
The national focus is geared towards an approach that embraces diversification, with special attention to consumables such as jewellery, office stationery, utensils and such products that have high chances for repeat purchases by the target clients, both locally and internationally.
There is therefore need to seek appropriate technology and training opportunities, a wealth of which is regionally available and can easily be tapped. This offers the greatest market potential for the Rwanda craft industry sector.
Secretariat on craft industry
This strategic plan recommended the establishment of a secretariat to address issues of supervision and coordination of this strategic plan and streamline the operations of the sector. The secretariat is responsible for the implementation of this strategic plan and ensures effective and efficient coordination.
The secretariat offers necessary guidance and support to the craft industry umbrella Organization that shall take over the management of the sector after the life of the secretariat.
Funding of the strategic plan
The Rwanda crafts sector five year (2009-2013) strategic plan requires an investment estimated at US$ 4,705,000. This budget is expected to be secured primarily through the annual budget appropriations of MINICOM, with the support of development partners.
Implementation, monitoring and
An action plan and implementation matrix was developed to guide programme execution. For a coordinated and focused programme execution and to ensure that the programme pursues its objectives, satisfies the needs and aspirations of the primary beneficiaries and stakeholders as well as promotes the developmental goals of government.
The secretariat on craft industry sector, is the key implementation agency under the supervision and guidance of the line Ministry mandated by law to handle craft industry activities, at the time of this strategic plan being MINICOM. The secretariat is comprised of five members to steer the five priority areas identified in the sector strategic plan.
Finally, if the craft industry is to take advantage of many existing national and international market opportunities, the Ministry of Trade and Industry needs more resources to facilitate in the implementation of craft industry strategic plan including qualified staffs especially in designing, product development and marketing of craft products.