Influential woman

Erica Elk, Executive Director of the Cape Craft&Design Institute
Erica Elk CCDI.jpg

Following 14 years of dedicated work in the craft and design sector as leader of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), Executive Director Erica Elk has been selected as a finalist in the 2015 Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards.

This latest Award shortlisting follows previous awards that acknowledged Erica’s achievements: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Business Women’s Association in 2013, the inaugural Department of Arts and Culture Mbokodo Award (craft sector 2012) and recognition by Decorex SA in 2008 as one of 15 South Africans who’ve made a significant contribution to design.

Under her dynamic leadership, the not-for-profit CCDI’s database grew from 60 in 2001 to over 5500 craft and design enterprises in 2014, with more than 1 100 directly accessing CCDI services and support each year. The CCDI is the official implementing agency for the craft and design sector in the Western Cape and over R25-million of direct investment was leveraged for sector development last year.

Erica has built up a team of professionals with sector expertise and specialist knowledge, and they have developed a comprehensive range of CCDI services in the categories of market, business, product and design support. She attributes the CCDI’s success to being extremely results-oriented and outcomes-driven, having an acute understanding of the needs and challenges of small businesses, and maintaining a professional yet human approach in its engagement with primary stakeholders – creative businesses, designers and other players in the value chain.

Erica says she is delighted to be selected as a finalist for the continental award. “The central focus of our work is on developing local talent, supporting creative businesses and proudly positioning a contemporary South African and African aesthetic both locally and globally to grow our consumer base – and to build a healthy design eco-system which fosters the use of design thinking to improve our businesses and solve some of the pressing challenges our country faces. Awards such as these give us another platform to promote the amazing assets of our craft and design sector – so it’s a great opportunity for the sector.”

Erica is currently on the boards of prominent organisations such as the National Arts Council and the Broadband Foundation, and was a board member of Cape Town Design (the World Design Capital 2014 implementation company), Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape chapter of the Visual Arts Network SA, among others.

Annelize Wepener, Chief Executive of CEO Communications – the organisation running Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards – says the 12 month recognition programme is designed to uplift, celebrate and recognise women, providing a platform they can use to celebrate their achievements amongst their continental counterparts. In addition, it will enable networking in order to connect with like-minded individuals in order to advance their perspectives and achieve greater objectives in the future.

The winners will be announced in Johannesburg on 28 July.


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Issue 58