Nutritional and beauty products manufactured from the miracle Moringa tree, packaged food derived from an Agripark on a university campus, hand-painted furniture, inspired by the uniqueness of South African cultures, red clay used in cosmetics … all of these are examples of how indigenous knowledge can be applied to create sustainable businesses.
For the past couple of months, the SABS Design Institute has partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to cultivate their complementary mandates in terms of indigenous knowledge. The DST has the responsibility to develop and transform the Indigenous Knowledge-based sector and the Design Institute has the ability to be the catalyst for economic growth through design. The Design Institute creates design and innovation interventions that can accelerate the current slow commercialisation of indigenous products.
The main objectives of this programme are to develop the capacity of entrepreneurs to build sustainable enterprises and to develop a commercialisation strategy for indigenous knowledge-based technology innovations. Candidates are led to investigate potential markets and possible strategic development partners, to develop a marketing strategy for indigenous knowledge-based technology innovations and to safeguard their intellectual property.
In the past few months, site visits were undertaken and a gap analysis done to determine a work plan. Areas covered will eventually include African traditional medicines and remedies; cosmeceuticals including health and beauty products; nutraceuticals, functional foods and supplements; and indigenous health beverages and teas.
A site visit was undertaken to the AgriPark facility at the University of Fort Hare near Alice. A food production facility has been set up on the university campus and vegetables that are supplied for processing are grown on university land as well as on land inhabited by the local community. Consequently, at least five products have been developed. Another site visit was undertaken to the Sedikong Organic Farming Cooperative located in the Tooseng Village area of Limpopo. Through design intervention the entrepreneur is currently receiving assistance with plans for industrialisation and manufacturing.