Why is it easier for creative industries to flourish in cities like Berlin, Milan or Paris than it is in others like Amman, Antananarivo or Beirut?
According to Italian designer Giulio Vinaccia it boils down to “a lack of an ecosystem to foster innovation.” Fortunately things are about to change on the island of Madagascar, where a group of women artisans and talented young people are designing a path for creative and economic development.
Located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa, the Republic of Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world. It is classified as a least developed country where 91% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day.
When survival is a must and the day-to-day is consumed by addressing basic needs, little space or time is left for artistic development. However, creative industries have proved to be an effective agent of change and a sustainable instrument to reduce poverty. They contribute 8% of the Malagasy Gross Domestic Product and provide more than two million jobs.
The future is female
In a country with 67% of rural population for whom subsistence agriculture is the primary livelihood, ancestral practices prevent single women and widows from owning land.
Without recognized social status, rural women remain in a particularly vulnerable situation, and due to the high poverty level prostitution has become an alarmingly widespread phenomenon across the island.
In this challenging context, a creative industry project implemented by UNIDO and funded by the Norwegian government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focused on the handicraft sector to create productive activities and diversify revenues for these vulnerable women.