Rural handicraft production in mpumalanga, south africa: Organization, problems and support needs

Christian M. Rogerson, Perseverence M. Sithole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Rural handicrafts is a labour-intensive economic activity that is receiving increased attention in post-apartheid South Africa. In this paper an investigation is undertaken into the organization, workings and developmental potential of groups of rural handicraft producers in Mpumalanga province. Three sections of discussion are presented. First, the Mpumalanga study is placed within a wider context of the development of rural handicrafts in South Africa as a whole. Second, the changing policy environment for rural handicraft producers in the case study region is explored in terms of provincial and local development support initiatives. Against this backdrop, the final section analyses the problems and workings of the rural handicrafts economy, presenting the findings from 60 detailed interviews in a rural Mpumalanga case study. It is concluded that rural handicraft enterprises are a form of tourism-linked SMME (small, medium and micro-enterprise). Although their core problems mirror those facing the small enterprise economy in South Africa as a whole, important variations are observed between groups of male wood carvers and women grass weavers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalSouthern African Geographical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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