The Craft & Design Institute (CDI), a flagship of the Western Cape government’s industrial policy programme, has been dealt a heavy financial blow by the narrow bureaucratic mind-set of officials in the department of trade & industry (DTI). Under the leadership of Erica Elk since its inception in 2001, the nonprofit organisation has contributed significantly towards providing business and skills development support to the Western Cape’s craft and design industries. In many cases, it has elevated the products developed by informal SMEs into successful export businesses — a rare feat for any government-funded agency. At its peak last year it employed 50 people. It now has just 15 staff members and Elk hasn’t been able to pay salaries on time in recent months because of cash flow problems created by long-overdue payment from a contract with the DTI. "This is a complete disgrace and demonstrates the shambles that industrial policy is in from the national to the provincial level," says M...

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