ECDC beneficiary sparkles at Edgars event
Ikhwezi Empowerment Centre is the first of the crafters supported by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to be featured by one of South Africa’s largest retail store Edgars.
Mdantsane based Ikhwezi, which means a star that signifies dawn in isiXhosa, prides itself for making African ethnic inspired jewellery from recycled glass. Founded by East London entrepreneur and crafter, Nomaci Qabaka, Ikhwezi showcased its work at Edgars’ Johannesburg event, ADJO for Black Up, last week in an event themed African Renaissance.
The African Designers and Jewellers Organisation (ADJO) of which Ikhwezi is a member, partnered with Black Up, a French make-up brand to merge beauty and jewellery design. Joining ADJO came about as part of ECDC’s endeavour to grow the craft enterprises under its wing, in a continuous bid to help creative industry players access markets and develop their businesses.
Ikhwezi was short listed in a competition running up to the event to design two jewellery pieces that would be modelled on the evening. Ikhwezi embraced the challenge and produced two dazzling hand crafted glass beaded necklaces that exude femininity in rich and dramatic colours.
“Ikhwezi’s participation in the competition has elevated its status and identity in the art and craft market,” says Yandiswa Sodaba, ECDC project manager who is involved in the craft support programme.
“It’s an inspiration to other craft enterprises in our export marketing and investment assistance (EMIA) programme and a proud achievement for our province,” she adds.
Ikhwezi has been with ECDC for three years, growing in great magnitude. Although Ikhwezi fell short of winning the overall prize which is an all-expenses paid trip to Russia to market and distribute winning collection next month, it stands a chance of supplying jewellery to a number of Edgars stores countrywide.
Sodaba says she is determined to see Ikhwezi take on the Eastern European market next year through the Makhaya Arts and Craft Development programme. The Eastern European market for arts and craft is a sizeable four hundred and fifty million people. The aim of this initiative is to take African art to new markets and to groom it into growth and sustainability.
ECDC’s creative programme assists crafters with business and product development and with market access. Ikhwezi’s partnership with the ECDC has opened up opportunities such as getting them involved in major exhibitions where they network and gain exposure and inspiration.
“I’m so humbled by this opportunity made possible by the ECDC to be part of such an important occasion. It gives me the confidence and drive to reach greater heights” said Nomaci Qabaka, founder of Ikhwezi Empowerment Centre.
Qabaka adds that the exposure at this event will enhance the centre’s vision to groom and empower more women with skills and jobs. Thus far the centre has trained and skilled 30 women at the facility.
Participation in this initiative provides Ikhwezi with a unique opportunity to develop a viable business. One of the two neck pieces entered into the competition was bought by a passionate lover of jewellery craft, ending the evening on an exhilarating note for Ikhwezi.
Article Tags: ECDC | Ikhwezi Empowerment Centre | Eastern Cape | Nomaci Qabaka