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Successful West China Women’s Handicraft Co-ops seminar

Presenting handicraft products
Presenting handicraft products

West China Women’s Handicraft seminar – Baoji, Shaanxi Province, March 10-11, 2015

Twenty participants, representing 15 co-operatives from Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia provinces, took part in a seminar in early March in Shaanxi Province as part of an NZCFS co-operative promotion programme.  Organised by Gong He and funded by Mr He Wanying, it was an extension of the NZCFS co-operative promotion programme in West China and was a great success.

The co-operatives make and sell products such as embroidery, knitted products, cloth products such as bags and purses, wall hangings, paper cuttings and masks, etc. Embroidery is the major handicraft, with some of the pictures being of such high quality, with very fine thread, that they could almost be photographs.

Role-play exercise for marketing to foreigners
Role-play exercise for marketing to foreigners

In addition to giving participants an opportunity to share their experience with production and business, the workshop also introduced participants to tools such as SWOT analysis, market segmentation and competition analysis. They also discussed marketing strategies and issues related to product development.

The participants also discussed opportunities and possibilities for initiating co-operation between co-operatives in the future to overcome some of the challenges and difficulties they face.

We acknowledge the financial support for the seminar provided by Mr He Wanying of the Binxian County Coal Company.  Tim Zachernuk and ICCIC Deputy Secretary General Liu Guozhong (NZCFS Life Member) acted as facilitators for the workshop and ICCIC Deputy Chairman, Mr. David Bromwich (NZCFS National President) attended the workshop and participated in workshop activities. Mr. Zhang Xufeng of the Agriculture Economic Management Section of the Shaanxi Province Dept. of Agriculture also joined the workshop and described the experiences of other handicraft co-operatives in the province.

At the seminar, a number of participants showed real interest in a trip to New Zealand to present their handicrafts and skills, and look at various forms of marketing handicrafts in New Zealand. Watch this space!

A Shaanxi cave dwelling, which is still lived in
A Gansu cave dwelling, which is still lived in

Following the seminar, Dave accompanied Liu Guozhong to visit two of the co-operatives in East Gansu and Ningxia.  The co-ops serve the needs of thousands of women, both in their co-operative workshops, and in their village homes. These two co-ops also have a programme to train disabled women in handicrafts too, thus catering for all needs in their community.

In the loess soil of east Gansu (and other places), many people used to live in cave houses, and some of these are still occupied. Vacated caves are used for storage, and can even make an effective low tech. cool store for apples. The winters are well below freezing, but inside the caves they do not freeze.

Dave Bromwich