Africa is known for some of the world’s most famous crafts, but the continent’s sector has received little investment over the years. The sector is still subsistence-oriented. It is largely driven by individuals with little economic clout and little or no governmental backing.
This is where Mablé Agbodan comes in to not only formalize the sector, but also to drive investment to the area and to pave the way for Africa to take advantage of the craft business on a global scale.
Agbodan founded the Togo Craftsmanship Club to promote the abilities of Togolese artisans and make the sector more competitive and appealing in her origin nation. According to Togo First, she founded the center from her sister’s veranda.
Agbodan was based in Europe prior to establishing her firm, where everything was going well for her. However, she decided to return home to serve because, as the saying goes, “there is no place like home.” “Well, I always say that Europeans built their own continent, and it is now up to us Africans to build our own.” “I’d like to help with that process,” she told Togo First.
Agbodan struggled to establish the Togo Craftsmanship Club. She established the center using money she had saved for over ten years. She also received backing from the Togo government.
Agbodan sells high-end products to a specific social group: football players, designers, and the bourgeois, and her clients are mostly from Europe. “However, in addition to my current customers, my goal is to sell to people in the African middle class,” she explained.
Pricing was one of her craft business’s key obstacles, making it difficult for locals to purchase her products. In a recent interview with Togo First, she stated that the pricing of her products prevents locals from purchasing. She does, however, claim to provide high-quality products that take time to create.
“The thing is, we spend a lot of time making our products. We do not rush. We take time at the stages of conception, design and all the rest,” she said. “That is why our prices are relatively high.”
In the coming years, the Togolese entrepreneur hopes to transform her center into a university where craftsmanship will be taught. She expressed optimism about establishing an African institute of craftsmanship, citing the inspiration that led her to establish her Craftsmanship Club.
“I started on my sister’s veranda and here I am now. The next step is to build other centers in Kara and Dapaong and create a real training centre for artisans. A place where a certain level of skills would be demanded before admission,” she noted in 2018.