Digital Content

An arts and craft website, is set to open a link between art producers in the country and international buyers paving the way for the first arts and crafts e-commerce market.

According to ArtBantu marketing director, Augustine Motswagae, the site facilitates e-commerce services by taking advantage of users browsing their catalogue and using their online order and payment system to electronically-purchase baskets, pottery, sculptures, woodcarvings and traditional genre DVDs.

"The purpose was to establish that link and benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) programme and European Union-Africa programmes. We have had a lot of encouragement from Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority since the site is in line with exporting goods," he said.

However, going to the webpage can be frustrating considering that it takes too long to open. There one can find images of the products that ArtBantu sells.

Their supply heavily depends on production from centres in Selibe- Phikwe and Gabane, which produce woodcarvings and pottery respectively.

At times, the growing demand through the international orders means they cannot supply some of their buyers. The wait is not very long, he says, but they have to keep visiting the centres to place the orders for pieces on demand.

"We have brought together a cluster of centres who supply us with the products. But we depend entirely on those centres to produce and be able to meet the demand. At times it could be that the client waits for the product after using the website's credit card payment facility, which had to be sourced from South Africa to be able to operate the payment gateway," Motswagae explained.

He added that there aren't companies that make payment gateway provisions for websites in Botswana, but that may be about to change. "There should be a company in Botswana, but the market for it is not there. Even with the demand," he said. He claimed that the facility guards against identity and credit card information theft as it is operated independently from ArtBantu.

Apart from foreigners overseas being the prime clientele, the site has seen a lot of support from "DVDs are the bestselling items at the moment because we get a lot of international students from Botswana placing orders for them," he said.

However, they have also seen the support of international museums, particularly from the United Kingdom. Other international organisations were able to link up with ArtBantu through referrals by the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority.

"We have realised that there is no recognition of products here at home as compared to the international market. Everything is priced in US dollars," he said.

The Echo