Improved trade within Africa

This week we finally received som fabric that was ordered from South Africa and delivered to the Chikumbuso Womens Group in Ngombe Lusaka who are to work on new cushion designs for Yawama of Sweden. The payment was made for the material in October 2014. An application was then made for SADC certification which would allow the material to be imported into Zambia duty-free. A period of close to 5 months where money has been tied into stock and planned production deadlines moved forward. Similar hurdles have been met when importing yarn into Zambia from Kenya where duties have suddenly been slapped onto goods from Kenya, even though both Kenya and Zambia are part of the free trade COMESA region.

African trade has to be made simpler, more cost-effective and efficient for continued economic growth and to be competitive for world export markets as summed up in this world bank documentary.

Know your European market

Who do you want to sell your product to?

Once you have established your business model, identified your key values in your organisation you need to understand your market before dashing off and purchasing products in what can easily turn out to be a fruitless affair. Trust me I am talking from experience. So study your market well in order to get you perfect marketing mix. Again I am focusing on products from developing countries to Europe and my references are from the home decor sector.

An excellent resource for understanding the potential that the European market has for goods produced in developing countries is the CBI Market Information where for my part the home decoration and home textiles category has played a significant role in outlining the potential within this sector. Other sectors include footwear, jewellery, fresh fruit and vegetable, cut flowers among many others. There is lots of reading here that will help you define whether your planned products should focus on low-end, middle end or high-end markets and information that will help you to understand value chains so that you can work on your pricing and product.

The price breakdown that CBI outlines within the value chain in the calculations below are general for textiles like curtains pillows within the home decor sector which can be confirmed from my personal experience with imports from Zambia and Southern African.

Value chains imports to europe from devloping countries source: CBI

Value chains imports to europe from developing countries source: CBI

Interior trends in Europe and Sweden

It can also be said that a general trend in Europe is the growing interest to know where and how their products are being made as can be seen in the increase trend towards eco and fair trade products which are perceived as inspiring and pleasing preferences. Consumers are searching for individuality and originality. Part of this trend includes an awareness of design, material and production techniques. The market for second hand and recycled interior products is also growing. These are all smaller nische markets. I will talk about the design aspect which I have perceived as one of the major challenges when working with products from small-scale producers in Africa in a later chapter.

Sources that can also be useful in order to study trends and markets for the home decor industry in Sweden include

Svenska moderådet – here you can subscribe to annual trend reports. The biannual leading trade fair for Nordic interior design Formex is an interesting event that will introduce you to products, markets and competitors. If you have a limited budget and can’t attend design fairs, a great place to start is att bloggers who attend these events.

There are a number of interior design bloggers in Sweden that are good to follow if you would like to keep up with the latest trends like Trendenser, Hemtrender, Husligheter,  Inredningsvis and stilinspiration.

Some of my very own personal favourites that promote more earthy country styles, eco friendly living, fairtrade, vintage and handmade include underbaraclara, kurbits, caisak, volanglinda, EmmasvintageMittlivpalandet, Att vara någons fru, and  Kammerbornia.

Interior design for kids room showing a blend of vintage, new and handmade  cow from yawama of sweden

Interior design for kids room showing a blend of vintage, new and handmade cow from yawama of sweden from Underbaraclara