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Local crafts attract orders in Canada


Mimi Machakaire

A MASERU company has received orders for its tapestry products running into thousands of maloti from potential customers in Canada.

Maseru Tapestries and Mats was among three local companies that were sponsored by Artisan Hub to exhibit at the recent Apparel Textile Sourcing Show in Toronto, Canada from 21 to 23 August this year.

The Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) in Canada launched Artisan Hub in 2016 to promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the textile and garment sector.

The initiative seeks to tell the stories of local producers and to promote their products on the Canadian market and it focuses on eight least developed countries (LDCs), namely, Lesotho, Madagascar, Uganda, Ethiopia, Haiti, Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia.

Following field visits to the different countries, 50 SMEs from the eight LDCs were chosen to participate in product sample exhibition roadshows in three cities in Canada (Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver) in October and November 2016, where they were presented to Canadian buyers and importers to assess them for market potential.

After the 2016 exhibition shows, Canadian buyers’ feedback was compiled for each product and 30 companies including Lesotho’s trio of House of Thethana, Leribe Craft Centre, Maseru Tapestries and Mats were selected to participate in a trade show in Canada in 2017.

The initiative enables companies from the eligible countries to benefit from duty-free and quota-free market access to Canada which is offered in terms of the Canadian Market Access Initiative (MAI).

The Sunday Express yesterday spoke to Masetumo Lebitsa, the manager of Maseru Tapestry and Mats, who expressed satisfaction with the reception of their products by the Canadian market.

“We displayed our tapestries for the walls and for the floors and there was one popular piece called the Blue Mountain which the Canadian market appeared to love,” Ms Lebitsa said, adding that they received several orders which they would deliver via DHL Lesotho.

Maseru Tapestries and Mats was established in 1998, initially as Matela Weavers. When some weavers left, the company was reconstituted under the supervision of Ms Lebitsa and changed its name to Maseru Tapestries and Mats.

The House of Thethana specialises in the design, print and conversion of locally-inspired fabric.

Leribe Craft Centre is an art and employment project run by the Anglican Church. It trains local women, including those with disabilities, to spin and weave mohair into jackets, bags, scarves, placemats and other items.

The companies’ Canada exhibition was facilitated by Mantai Mpesi, the Managing Director of Handmade in Lesotho.

Ms Mpesi told this publication that she was involved in promoting and marketing locally made niche market products at the Apparel Textile Sourcing Show.

“I helped Maseru Tapestry and Mats and Leribe Crafts to obtain visas, preparing price lists, communicate with the organisers, send photographs and videos for promotion and preparing their labels and business cards.

“The trade show links the manufactures with the buyers. Being chosen to represent Lesotho and attending is not enough, there is a lot of preparations required to maximise the opportunities while competing in global market,” Ms Mpesi said.





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