The community of Atlanta, the biggest city in the US state of Georgia, are being exposed to some intriguing examples of the home decor and textile-manufacturing talents of a wide range of South African artisans and entrepreneurs.
After an absence of five years from the Atlanta’s Americasmart Showrooms, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has re-established a permanent showroom to showcase local products manufactured by small businesses and cooperatives. This is one of the of the dti interventions to broaden the participation of SMME’s and Cooperatives in the economy through global markets. The reinstatement of the showroom to this market has been widely welcomed - and the quality of the goods that have been put on display has been fulsomely praised.
In reopening the showroom, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, said she was highly impressed by the talent and skills that had gone into designing and crafting an ‘impressive array of fashionable products.
The participating artisans at this showroom consist of an interesting mix - of both the known and the up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Among the more established businesses participating is the Bayede! Royal Signature Textiles from KwaZulu-Natal.
Bayede! (an isiZulu term that translates into English as ‘Hail the King!’) has strong connections with the Zulu Monarch, King Goodwill Zwelethini, who, in backing it as a job creation project, has given it his ‘royal seal of approval’ and hailed as the first to develop royal and luxury product range for the African continent.
Some of the products on display include sets of ottomans and coffee tables made out of recycled tyres by Yolanda Msutwana and Sazi Mkunqwana, and their East London-based company, Ozzys Eco Decor, and award-winning baskets hand-woven out of ukhasi grass and ilala palm leaves by Angeline Masuku. Some of the participants include Tlanggape Upholstery, which manufactures customized furniture, in addition to restoring upholstery (as well as customizing woodwork, authentic African fabric and leather), is based in Polokwane, in Limpopo
Deputy Minister Thabethe said that the cultural diversity of these products ought to be a source of inspiration to all South Africans. Thabethe stated that she was convinced that American and international consumers will be impressed with the quality of the goods on display.
In his message of support, the South African ambassador to the USA, Mr Ebrahim Rasool, said thrilled that the dti has brought project to fruition.