eShop – Arts & Crafts from Uganda

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Crocodile, carved wood, West-Nile (Nebbi)
30cm, 4.50 €

As a result of some of my posts I am addressed now and then as to whether I can source commodities from Uganda and provide an e-shop with Ugandan arts and crafts products. So far, interest has been expressed to me particularly in jewellery items, decorative articles, bags and toys.

Calabush Shakers-middle size

Calabush Shakers
ca. 20 cm
3.80 €

Therefore, I have in the last few months visited many local markets and crafts enterprises to give me a better impression of the overall picture. Uganda is developing rapidly and new, beautiful and interesting products are constantly appearing. However, the buyer must be conscious that most (nearly all) manufacturers are either individuals or very tiny groups within village communities, and nearly always women.

Once the children and family are cared for (family is more important than anything else in Ugandan society) and the vegetable gardens tended, then thoughts may be focused on producing something that can be sold. However, the whole concept of money is fairly new to some Ugandans especially to those living deep in the villages. Many of the communities still exist on the traditional barter method of existence. Although money is needed in the more developed areas (e.g. for school fees) it does not seem to be a motivating factor when it comes to producing items in great quantities or with good quality for sale.

necklace-big-beads-60cm

Paper beads necklaces
ca. 60 cm
3.50 €

This means that when I do find something beautiful made to a good standard I photograph it to send to potential customers who then tend to order in small numbers, perhaps 10 or 20 pieces at a time. I then speak with the appropriate crafts group and place an order with them. Even with these small quantities it is not unusual that problems do arise when the group then submits perhaps only half of the order on time and then maybe to a lesser quality than I was originally shown, meaning I have to reject some of the items what they have produced for me. To this they then plead, “We put so much effort into these products that you have to take them all..!”

All of the products shown on this site are hand-made in Uganda (or in one of the neighbouring East African countries), thus, all are goods from African developing markets. I will always give my best to supply in the ordered quantities and to European standards, but I must reserve the fact that sometimes I may be unable to supply the desired quantity of a certain product and therefore have to seek substitutes from other groups.

Certain products change in appearance on a regular basis; for example, paper beads depend upon the colours of the magazines which are shredded to make them and as so many people in so many groups are involved, the shapes, colours and sizes of the beads vary. Another example is decorative items made from wire and beer bottle caps, where there are fewer suppliers and larger problems in obtaining the required quantities. I will refund immediately any money or offer substitutes should problems arise with a given order.

Shell---necklace

Necklace, Shells from Lake Victoria
ca. 65 cm
5.80 €

I will indicate also in the descriptions on my e-shop whether a product can be supplied more or less reliably.

Should there be problems with the execution of an order, I always communicate immediately by email and enquire whether a substitute is acceptable or whether the buyer would like a refund. Some of the goods can be posted immediately since they are produced in sufficient quantities. With other articles, sometimes I have to place an order with the producer and then wait patiently until the delivery arrives in Kampala.

I apologise for all the caveats and hope that it does not put-off potential buyers too much, because I am of the opinion that it is enormously important for the development of this country that the local craftsmen can sell their products and create a worldwide market for them. From this perspective, I hope that all buyers will understand the challenges faced by the craftsmen and women and also for me in negotiating with them to deliver quality products every time.

Orders can be submitted on-line using the Shopping Cart, and/or by email. I have access to a substantial number of products, and it will take time to load them all on this blog.

If you are interested in any of the advertised products then by all means enquire by email first before placing an order. The list of goods is constantly growing and to it are added regularly more and more unique articles.

Pictures, ca. 10x15 cm
Russian Icon technique combined African motives
9.50 €

I deal directly with the Ugandan producers without using brokers or middlemen. The calculated prices shown are therefore solely the costs of production plus my profit margin so that it is worthwhile for me to promote Ugandan crafts, deal with the producers, advertise the items on-line and process/post the orders, et cetera.

Since I cannot guarantee at all that a product matches a published picture 100%, I am not selling individual items. This e-shop is intended for dealers only. The minimum orders should be 100 articles in total at a time; the order per individual product 10 items.

Coconut---necklaces---80cm

Necklace from coconut
ca. 80 cm
5.80 €

With each order, I will include free samples of different items (one item per 100 € order). If you have certain preferences please let me know, otherwise I will attach free samples of my own choosing which I think may be of interest.

Concerning dispatch, at present I use EMS (an international courier service), which supplies parcels within 5 to 7 working days everywhere in the world. If the e-shop develops well, I will certainly negotiate with other logistics companies to reduce postage prices dependant upon delivery location, and can also perhaps consider arranging shipping containers if customers wish to buy in much larger quantities.

Many thanks for your time and in advance to any of you who wish to place an order, particularly on behalf of all of the Ugandan producers, to whom your orders provide a life-line. In some small way this e-shop will support Uganda and reduce on the need for development assistance funds, which rarely reach the people they are intended to help.

If anyone has any questions or opinions or would like a testimonial from existing customers, then I will gladly pass on email contacts for your assurance. To conclude, I would appreciate any comments from prospective and existing customers on this blog, since I understand that transacting business with one of the poorest countries in the world can be a barrier to buyer confidence.

Important note: At this moment this e-shop trading platform is still in testing mode and I will need a few days before it is presentable and furnished with the products available to purchase. Orders are therefore to be made only by email. Hopefully, at the beginning of February everything should be running smoothly.