Tjanpi Desert Weavers 

Since 1995, Tjanpi Desert Weavers (Tjanpi) has been the social enterprise of Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council. It is affectionately known as the “happy face of NPY”. It supports women across 350,000 square kilometres of the Central and Western Desert region of Australia to create and market fibre art made from locally collected grasses and other materials. It provides both income and employment opportunities for over 400 women in NPY.

The Challenge & How We Tackle It

After 15 years of operations Tjanpi found itself facing a significant threat to viability. This was due to loss making activities in the commercial gallery market along with the prospect of downsizing due to the loss of an Australia Council grant that was part of the organisations heavy reliance on government funding. 

Creative Economy undertook an initial strategic review and then developed a new strategic plan in a social enterprise model using Creative Economy’s innovative sustainability framework. Additionally, business mentoring services were provided to the manager of Tjanpi to transfer business knowledge and to support implementation of the business plan. Subsequently, a marketing action plan was developed utilising Creative Economy’s extensive industry expertise and networks in the marketplace.

The Result

Utilising Creative Economy’s sustainability framework, Tjanpi re-established itself in a social enterprise model driven by its original purpose “to contribute to improving the lives of NPY women and their families by supporting women to come together on country, for cultural activity and employment through the creation of fibre art.”

Tjanpi was able to increase its total revenue by 200% through diversification of revenues and significantly reduce its dependency on government grants to 20% of total revenue.

The clear track record of the women of Tjanpi and the strength of the strategic plan secured the largest single investment by the Westpac Foundation who supported the employment of Aboriginal women in the desert regions.

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