Much has been made of micro-finance as an economic development tool.
One challenge in micro-finance is that the businesses created with
micro-loans are often service businesses that do not create new wealth
within communities. They simply move the wealth from one person to
Some community development organizations have created a
different model. Micro-marketing. This concept creates jobs and
wealth by teaching marketable skills and providing valuable products to
people outside the communities these groups serve. Cape Town, South
Africa is home to two such organizations, the Philani Nutrition Development Project and MonkeyBiz.
Philani centers, located in the townships of Cape Town teach weaving,
beadwork and other artistic skills. They provide sales, marketing and
business education and support. Two-thirds of the revenue from the
artists’ work goes directly to the artists. The remainder supports
the centers’ educational and childhood development programs and
provides business assistance to the artists. The art is sold to
tourists and collectors that visit the centers and a number of retail
shops throughout Cape Town.
provides a similar outlet for local artists via a retail shop in Cape
Town, an online shop and partnerships with organizations around the
world. In contrast to the Philani Centers, which focus on township
residents, MonkeyBiz artisans largely come from the streets of Cape
Town. MonkeyBiz provides a broad range of skills training, involving
artisans in every aspect of the retail business and community outreach
Like micro-finance programs, these micro-marketing initiatives
create new economic opportunities for underprivileged communities. By
creating goods for art collectors and tourists, projects like
MonkeyBiz and the Philani Centers go one step farther. They attract
new wealth into the communities.
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