Now in its 4th year, the NEXT Trade Exhibition is an initiative of the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) that aims to encourage the export of South African product. The CDI is a South African non-profit company with two decades of success in developing creative people, small businesses and the craft and design sector at large. The CDI has appointed Scout to publicise the 2021 edition of NEXT to local and international media.

In previous years, NEXT took the form of a week-long exhibition. For 2021, NEXT has been agilely re strategized to give it increased longevity and a wider global reach. For the first time, NEXT will take the form of an innovative online platform that can be accessed by buyers, members of the trade and the public from across the globe. NEXT21 is set to go live towards the end of March 2021 and will be on show for a full year, until NEXT22 is launched.

 NEXT21 constitutes the first-ever digital expo for the CDI and will provide a dynamic video walkthrough for viewers. The online exhibition will showcase approximately 25 export-ready producers who will be launching brand new ranges on the platform. These ranges include small furniture, lighting, home textiles, fashion and home accessories. The participating businesses represent the best of South African craft and design, ready to be ordered by local and international importers, retailers and decorators.

NEXT21 is part of the CDI’s export development programme, which helps small and medium businesses in South Africa to develop and grow. The CDI export development programme has been running for several years and was initiated and run with the support of the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI). The programme saw an average of over 50% increase in export sales (from 2016 to 2018 to European markets). The NEXT Trade Exhibition was launched in 2018, and has grown annually. The 2019 and 2020 events drew in dozens of international trade buyers from a diverse array of countries such as Denmark, France, Sweden, Italy and the US amongst other countries, many of whom travelled to Cape Town specifically for the trade exhibition.

For 2021, the virtual walkthrough will render it unnecessary for international buyers to undertake long-haul flights, or for local buyers to travel via domestic routes. It also removes concerns about pandemic-related travel restrictions. Because the costs of international travel, accommodation and transport have also been removed, there are very few barriers to entry for international trade, which widens the net so that an even greater number of international buyers and media entities can view the exhibition. What’s more, the extended timeframe will make it easier for buyers to view the latest products over the coming months.