Kgabane (meaning precious) is a brainchild of government through the then Department of Minerals and Energy, mandated to champion the development of the indigenous precious metal jewellery sub-sector (through fusing ancient indigenous craft techniques and goldsmithing techniques to create a product with a uniquely African signature). Established in 2001, Kgabane has a number of programmes, principal among which is the National Rural Development Programme, which drives Small and Micro Enterprises (SME) development in order to meet the following objectives.
- Creating sustainable livelihoods in rural and poor urban communities,
- Inclusion of historically marginalised groupings, i.e. rural women, unemployed youth and the disabled, into the mainstream of the jewellery manufacturing industry,
- Contributing to poverty alleviation,
- Job creation.
The program design and strategy have been informed by the growing world demand for quality, hand crafted, branded goods, and the corresponding decline in the number of practitioners of what were once widely based craft skills.
The program is made up of a production and training unit where traditional craft skills are honed and integrated with traditional goldsmithing techniques; an accredited outreach program which identifies and develops viable craft centres.
The Kgabane program forms part of the programmes administered and implemented by Mintek’s Small Scale Mining Division.
The Kgabane product ranges were created by the women of South Africa, drawing inspiration from the rich legacy of indigenous adornment based upon traditional skills to be found throughout South Africa’s rural community.
- Gold and Silver Jewellery,
- Fashion Jewellery.
Achievements to date
Kgabane trained rural groups in Kwazulu Natal, Northern Cape, Limpopo Province, Eastern Cape Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and North West Province. Each group is treated as a unique entity, taking stock of the availability of indigenous knowledge systems – particularly as these may be apparent in existing cultural/craft practice. This is then followed by a training program tailored to the needs of each group and which aims at providing an entry point into tested markets having particular stylistic and pricing points.
Once a group has successfully developed a product range with market acceptance, and if resources allow, Kgabane can be engaged by the group to undertake further training, research and development into product development and or to assist in the development and launch of a branding strategy for the group and its products.
250 people in nationally accredited skills programmes have been trained and up to 23 small businesses nation-wide have been set up. These beneficiaries have been provided with comprehensive support (production monitoring, quality assurance, design input and basic business skills). These enterprises are mainly in rural and peri-urban communities.
The beneficiaries are also assisted with access to markets to enable them to generate sustainable incomes.
The focus of Kgabane is to create a top of mind household brand that can compete favourably locally and have the potential to penetrate the international market. This will see the full commercial viability of the SMEs and open up opportunities for the entry of new small businesses, therefore making further inroads towards poverty alleviation and job creation in historically marginalised communities.