By Desmond Oriakhogba

As an Open AIR NERG and QEScholar, I have been conducting research since June 2018 on the empowerment of indigenous craft women in Africa. Part of my Fellowship has included an invaluable placement with and grounded research participant, the Woza Moya project of the Hillcrest Aids Center Trust (HACT), in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

In an earlier blog post, I highlighted the economically empowering and impactful community-driven work being undertaken by HACT in partnership with and for the benefit of poor, rural, Zulu women from the Valley of Thousand Hills and other villages around Hillcrest. My research with the Woza Moya project, explores the cultural creativity, intellectual property, gender empowerment, innovation, and entrepreneurial dynamics at play in the indigenous craft and work done by the women of the project. A working paper on the analysis of my research findings will be soon be published here by Open AIR.

Most exciting, my article has gained significant attention and sparked interest from key international organisations. Many of the latter are focusing on gender empowerment and informal businesses driven by women engaged in such indigenous crafts. One such organisation – Business Destination Magazine – has now published a report where they interviewed me about my research project for their Autumn 2019 issue. Seeing and knowing that my research is making a difference is an amazing experience and I am humbled at the opportunity of bringing greater attention to the great work of HACT.