KIGALI - Artisans drawn from across the country will meet today in Kigali to participate in the first ever annual Handcraft Award of Excellence Program (HEAP) aimed at advancing professionalism and originality in the craft sector.
During the week-long event to be held at Amahoro stadium in Remera, the best selected artisans from four provinces and the City of Kigali will compete at the national level.
Artisans are also expected to share their experiences through the planned seminars.
The handcraft business, which forms a crucial component of the micro-and-small enterprise sector in Rwanda, has the potential to generate income through employment opportunities to the poor, especially in rural areas.
The sector is a vital source of livelihood for the women, youth and people with disabilities and is expected to boost exports.
Marie Gorreti Nyirakanani from Huye district joined the handcraft industry after dropping out of primary school.
With earnings from basket weaving and embroidery, she has managed to build herself a house.
She is optimistic about her chances of winning the top prize at the national level.
“I’m ready to compete with the best in the country; I’m also ready to learn from more accomplished artisans,” Nyirakanani says.
Abdul Niyonemera, from the Southern Province does not regret joining the handcraft industry.At the age of 19, he joined a local vocational training centre and thereafter got himself a job for life.
“I have managed to sustain my family out of earnings from my art pieces. But I need to improve, I’m hopeful that this national event will offer more opportunities,” he says.
The first three winners per handcraft category will be awarded with gold, silver and bronze trophies in addition to cash prizes.
They will also be assisted through targeted technical assistance to develop a business turnaround plan in addition to training on product designing, development and promotion among other benefits.