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Spotting the gap for African greeting cards

Jun 12 2014 10:25
Fin24
Cape Town - Gildah Tshukutswane of Johannesburg is the inspiration behind African Greetings.

Her concept is simple: Everyone should have the opportunity to share and celebrate African-inspired messages in African languages through greeting cards.

These are usually only available in English or Afrikaans at retailers and usually only for birthdays and weddings.
 
Tshukutswane realised the business potential when she spotted a huge gap in the greeting cards industry, which made no provision for any of the African languages.

In addition, she wanted to build a business that would help create employment and contribute toward the economic development of the African continent.
 
Tshukutswane has faced many challenges, in particular market access.

She approached most of the large well-known retailers to stock her products, but was repeatedly turned away, despite them having no stock in any of the official African languages.
 
Tshukutswane persevered and eventually Pick n Pay offered her a chance as part of a pilot project.

Cards were placed in a few selected stores and the outcome has been extremely positive considering that the selection consisted only of birthday and Christmas cards in just four languages.
 
The feedback from customers has been encouraging and there appears to be a definite demand for cards for all occasions in all 11 languages.
 
The problem remains the high costs involved in selling in a few stores only.

Tshukutswane is confident that Pick n Pay will give her the go-ahead for her product range to be extended to all of their 270 stores.
 
With this deal in place she will be in a position to increase her product range to cards with different themes and celebrating all occasions in all of the official languages.
 
Tshukutswane has registered with TechnoServe to help her access additional markets and guide her in business development.

With the assistance of TechnoServe, she has started engaging creative arts institutions to encourage students to enter design competitions that Tshukutswane hosts.
 
To get her business a bit more publicity, she has partnered with City Varsity.

Their third year students are designing cards with different themes to be placed online ahead of Father’s Day to get the public to vote for their favourite card through downloads. There’s even a prize for the winning design.

- Fin24

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retail  |  entrepreneurs  |  small business
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