27 November 2003
Hannafrica, an online catalogue business, has tapped into the West’s insatiable appetite for African crafts to become a South African export success story.
The company, which started operations in 2000, exports upmarket African furniture and merchandise, and has helped to pave the way for small South African businesses get their products to overseas markets.
Jewellers, artists, furniture manufacturers and craft makers have all benefited from selling their goods through Hannafrica.
The big breakthrough for owner Greg Hanna came when he secured a contract to supply Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom lodge and a 1 300-room hotel in the United States.
But it was no easy task. Hanna had to make numerous trips to the US to convince Disney that they could do the job. “At first they did not believe a little country in Africa could deliver,” Hanna told The South African Exporter.
Now, Disney is looking to acquire a new range of products offered by Hannafrica, and the company is reportedly also starting to work with Disney on a big jewellery project.
The company is also looking to expand into the interior design market in the US, and hopes to start selling its products in the Middle East and Japan.
As Hanna told the Sunday Times: “With Japan being the world’s second-biggest economy, this is definitely a market we will break into over time.”
Hannafrica has notched up numerous awards along the way. The company recently won the Gauteng 2003 Exporter of the Year award. It has also won a President’s Award for the most successful new entry in the export market.
Says Hanna: “We have the creativity and passion to continue creating exciting and fresh product for export.”