THE launch of a monthly flea market in Butha-Buthe has been hailed by craft traders in the district as an effective way to attract a wide array of customers.
Organised by the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) in conjunction with Action Lesotho, the flea market was launched on Saturday at the Butha-Buthe Information Centre.
Various craft traders from the district showcased their wares at the flea market, which is near the Caledonspoort Border with South Africa.
Seshoeshoe designer, ‘Maitumeleng Letsoepa, told the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of the flea market that it had helped her access many customers.
“I operate my business at BEDCO (Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation) in Butha-Buthe and we mostly cater for customers who already know about us,” she said.
“The flea market has enabled us to showcase our products to a wider market. We are also being taught how to effectively display our products and techniques on attracting customers. I am very keen to participate in all the forthcoming flea markets.”
According to LTDC Public Relations Officer, Molapo Matela, they joined forces with Irish-funded non-governmental organisation Action Lesotho to provide training to the craft traders in addition to the flea market.
“From the beginning of last year, we partnered with Action Lesotho so they could train and help the crafters access the international market. “They started the training sessions in Kome and also went to other regions including Teyateyaneng (TY), Maseru and Morija,” Mr Matela said.
“Our partnership has been very effective because they have not only trained the traders, but managed to secure a market for them in countries such as Germany and Ireland as well as showcasing their wares on the Action Lesotho website.”
He said they intended to hold the flea market monthly to promote local small-sized businesses.
“Butha-Buthe is a tourism hub and the border is often used by tourists visiting Mokhotlong. So, we are planning to support this initiative in any way possible,” said Mr Matela.
For her part, Action Lesotho Development Representative, Pippa Kearon, said they were helping local crafters design their products in a way that could appeal to the international market.
“We are a development agency which also focuses on fostering the growth of the crafts sector. The reason for that is we realised Basotho could earn a living through selling crafts. So our aim is to help them fight poverty by teaching them how to price their products and the importance of ensuring quality,” she said.
“When we started working with them, most crafters used to imitate each other’s designs. But we trained them to make unique and quality products which attract customers. We also taught them to bear their potential customers in mind whenever they are designing the products.”
Ms Kearon also indicated that they had so far worked with 13 organisations of crafters from Kome, TY, Pitseng, Maseru and Morija, adding that they also provided them financial advice.
“They have sold their products to the United States and Europe with an overall annual turnover of M1.2 million. South Africa remains an untapped market which we are in a process of penetrating,” she said.