Solomon Islands: Aiding community development by manufacturing, marketing and selling local products
I learned today that views have been raised about the Honiara Craft Centre not having a marketing strategy and this prompted me to mention the situation in Thailand in the hope it will be of some help.
Over the years I have written many times, and the letters published by Solomon Times, about an entrepreneurship programme that operates in Thailand known as the One Tambon One Product (OPTOP) programme.
The programme supports locally made and marketed products of each of Thailand’s 7255 tambons (sub districts).
The idea for the OTOP programme originated in Japan where the same programme is called One Village One Product (OVOP).
The One Tambon One Product movement is a self-help effort wherein rural communities participate in the creation of a product that can be sold locally and internationally.
OTOP includes a large array of local craft products, including traditional handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods.
The Japan External Trade Organization, (JETRO) a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world has helped Thailand to market and sell OTOP products in Japan.
If something similar to the Thai programme could be arranged in the Solomon Islands and JETRO assist in marketing locally made craft products in Japan then rural communities could benefit substantially with the sale of their products.
An alternative suggestion would be selling locally made craft items on line, especially since broadband services will soon be available and make on-line trading very much easier than it has been in the past.
Of course there would need to be a specially designed website for the purpose, very much like the one I introduced (www.solomonislandsinfocus.com) some 6 years ago to help focus world attention on the Solomon Islands and the very many beautiful and skillfully crafted shell inlaid wooden bowls.
My website has top ranking and “hits” exceeded over 1 million recently.
Another alternative would be to advertise and market local craft products through Itsy (www.itsy.com) where craft products are featured.
I looked at the wooden bowls displayed on that trading website today and, frankly, I saw none that matched the wooden bowls made by the talented wood carvers in the Solomon Islands.
Japan has proved to be a supportive partner of the Solomon Islands especially in developments in road infrastructure, water supplies and education facilities and I feel sure, for the want of asking the Government of Japan (and JETRO) could advise on a local OTOP) scheme to aid village communities make and sell their crafts.
With the advance of broadband services, the Solomon Islands government will no doubt promote business development and perhaps the time is right to see the skilled crafts people at home are provided with a government created website to display and sell their quality products.