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Customer stories

Turning KAMERS/Makers into a cashless artisanal society

Turning KAMERS/Makers into a cashless artisanal society

There is a large well of local talent within SA, from beadwork craftsmen, to shoemakers, to women creating proudly South African-inspired pieces. Often, many local artisans and their small businesses can be overshadowed, overlooked, and pushed to the sidelines by bigger corporations that have mass-produced goods. Recently though, consumers have started looking towards smaller and more unique crafts.

'Who made this? Where did they make it? How did they make it?' This is a newly adopted mindset when purchasing goods. But the expert 'makers' behind the goods needed a platform to showcase their products.

A new market rises up

In 2003, a group of women from Stellenbosch decided it was time to make a change and create their own stage for these artisans. This led to the inception of Kamers Vol Geskenke, which evolved with a greater mission to KAMERS/Makers. Starting off in a home in Stellenbosch, Kamers Vol Geskenke began with 36 artisans filling the emptied-out rooms in one of the partners' houses. After drawing about 800 customers to that first show, they decided to do it again the next year, and the next, and it has grown steadily ever since.

As each year's success surpassed that of the previous year the KM partners, Wanda du Toit and Magdel Kemp, realised they faced a new challenge. Being an artisanal pop-up market, KAMERS/Makers welcomed Makers and artisans from across the country each year.

A problem is transformed into an opportunity

With the business having expanded into Gauteng, Wanda and Magdel realised that Makers (and their customers) were now carrying large amounts of cash and travelling on unfamiliar routes for the duration of the pop-up market. There was a need for a financial engine. That's when Wanda and Magdel decided to change the path for KAMERS/Makers by turning it into a cashless artisanal community, and in turn protecting their makers and their customers.

Having spent some time developing a 'cashless back-end system', they then decided to approach FNB about them taking on the role of powering the entire financial backend of KAMERS/Makers. By providing Speedpoint® devices, building business advice forums for the makers and creating a specialised production loan for the KAMERS/Makers artisans, FNB offered more than just financial support; they assisted in providing a foundation for South Africa's local talent to learn, grow and expand their own businesses.

Brand & Business Development Head, Jeremy says, 'FNB literally created a completely new loan product specifically for our makers', allowing KAMERS/Makers to not only thrive as a business but to give individuals the chance to make a living for themselves and their families by producing immaculate products that would have previously been outshone by mass-produced goods.

A legacy is crafted

KAMERS/Makers, now embracing its status of being a cashless artisanal society, and has grown from that first show to staging six annual shows across SA, showcasing over 350 Makers and welcoming more than 60 000 shoppers in 2022.

These yearly events have led to KAMERS/Makers becoming the largest cashless artisan pop-up market in Africa - hosting a range of proudly local, passionately designed and carefully handcrafted products at each show - and carrying KAMERS/Makers deepest gratitude for supporting local SA talent. Clearly, no matter how big or small your dream is, nothing is ever impossible. All you need is some help, and a conversation or two, to turn your dream into something bigger.

We all have the power to change our story, you can become a leader of change.

Visit the Kamers Makers website for more information

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