Monday, August 16, 2010

A fair form of poverty tourism

There has been a lot of talk about poverty tourism on the internet lately. An article posted today at All Africa talks about a tourist stop that actually helps people in poverty by selling crafts that can give them a decent wage.

From this Namibian article that we found at All Africa, writer Sukaynah Alkatib tells us about the Namibia Crafts Centre.

THE Namibia Crafts Centre (NCC) in Windhoek is a vibrant tourist heaven packed with gifts and souvenirs such as baskets, printed fabrics, stationery, carved wooden animals and ostrich egg-shell jewellery, to name a few.

And although there is a lot to look at, there is even more to see behind the curtains.

Mark Holker, who has been volunteering as the centre's Business Development Manager for the past three years, says:

"We have a network of around 800 rural craft producers throughout Namibia.

But we don't just buy their goods, we pay them fair prices, support them through continuous artistic and business training and help them to keep ahead of the competition by developing new products."

These ideals have earned them a place as a member of the International Fair Trade Association - which promotes poverty alleviation and partnerships as core values alongside sound business principles for companies and social enterprises alike.

"The NCC is a charity so we are often criticised for selling at twice the cost of production, but what people don't understand is that we put a lot back into the communities that supply us and we have many overhead costs in terms of sales promotion, course training, marketing, rent and electricity" explains Holker.

"There is no point in starting a project if you cannot sustain yourself and continue to improve peoples' lives. Sustainability is the reason why we are still going strong 18 years after we were first established."

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