Hand crafted gifts provide the safari industry with a way to give back to the African communities in need who produce the products, important in the marketing and culture of Game Lodges and African tourism in general.
When award winning graphic designer Janice Ashby visited Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls for the first time, she came across a different kind of hand made paper in the hotel gift shop. A different kind of hand-made paper, unique, textured, rough, and powerfully African in nature. Her excitement peaked with the idea of designing a line of paper-crafted gifts, which in turn could provide poverty stricken rural communities with income to feed their families. These she marketed through New York trade shows along with her other designs under the branding of The Janice Ashby Paper Collection.
The turning point came when a group of buyers from a large crafting wholesaler based in Utah came into her stand and discovered the line. They worked with her to come up with a line of products under their own branding and ordered three containers.
With a quarter million dollar order in hand, and armed with US dollar bills wrapped around her middle, she returned to Zimbabwe. Her job was to start training programmes for 400 desperately poor women to earn much needed income by producing hundreds of thousands of components to assemble into products for the three container order.
Eco Africa Papercraft, a job creation social enterprise, was born and a non profit was started in New York to support the wellbeing of the women and their families.
From there her designs evolved into handmade paper gifts and stationery aimed at the Fair Trade market worldwide. It turned out that the products had a colourful, contemporary, African flavour that also appealed to the tourism industry in Africa.
As the recession hit worldwide, Janice decided it was time to relocate and return to Cape Town to be closer to her family – and to the organization in Zimbabwe.
From there it was natural to tap into retailers in tourist hubs whose customers loved the new line.
With a new website that showed off the products with their colourful appeal to visitors, Eco Africa Papercraft began to attract a new sort of customer. Tour operators began purchasing them as gifts for their Safari clients. They have all the attributes that make them ideal for such gifts. Lightweight for packing in luggage, made from recycled hand-made papers that are acid free and tree free, and every product sold means that a woman in poverty is empowered with income producing skills that will help her feed her family.
Most Safari clients are passionate about the environment and love supporting local African causes. The job creation workshops began to hum as work poured in. More and more women were being empowered with income producing skills.
Now a new side of the business emerged. Custom Products.
The tourism industry always needs specialized custom items to carry their branding and re-enforce their culture. Strong folders are needed to hold their clients’ itineraries and trip information. Eco Africa designed imaginative interpretations of folders with inside pockets for just that purpose.
Quantities of envelopes made from the unique papers on which to send out literature are a popular item. Folding gift boxes that deliver flat and spring into shape when needed are the perfect vehicle in which to present all kinds of specialised gifts for clients, or at promotional events.
Both leisure and business travellers love being “gifted” They enjoy taking small items home to their children, family and friends. This is truly a perfect new and appropriate resource for the tourism industry as a whole.
For more information contact Janice on +27(0)72 473 5596 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.ecoafricapapercraft.org