I saw Nina Yesterday. I saw myself. 12 years old in a predominantly white boarding school in newly independent Zimbabwe standing up and saying. “ ENOUGH!!”. My fight then was for the right for blacks and whites to use the same showers.. to be able to stand in the same space. As I grew older my fight has evolved focusing on women who can’t own a space due to be being economically crippled. They are silenced. They are no one. They are part of this never ending malicious poverty trap. They are women in Zambia.
Yawama of Sweden is my initiative born out of my numerous years in the aid sector wanting more than just hand outs for women. Wanting women to feel a sense of self worth. Wanting women to feel ownership. Wanting women to be economically independent. Wanting women to send their kids to school…..I could go on.
This is what Yawama is about.
Yawama in my tribal language bemba means “It is really good!”
I am so excited about the business growth that we are witnessing. The initial team of 5 knitters has grown and now more than 30 ladies are part of knitting and crocheting groups spread in the surrounding villages.
Little Ndaba have developed the business model where women are now devided into piece makers and joiners. The piece makers work from home at specific meeting points in their different villages while the joiners work from Little Ndaba ensuring that the final toy is stitched and stuffed in accordance with EU regulations for toy safety. Little Ndaba coordinate yarn delivery and collection of knitted toys and conduct in field training.
Each piece maker gets paid per completed set and the joiner is paid per completed toy. The ladies today receive the equivalent of 6-8% of the final price of each toy on the international market. Our ultimate goal provided we can are able to start bulk buying of yarn and start importing larger numbers of toys is 10%.
This is a great business modell for the development of rural communities that I sincerely believe has the potential to provide many women with the possibilites of work outside of the farming season and is further independant of other household commitments. Many of the ladies are able to work from their homes or in smaller groups within the village setting. Smaller children can still be part of their mothers day.
A short film about our latest trip to Zambia.
Not sure if I appreciate seeing myself on film but love seeing and listening to these ladies beautiful voices.
Our recent trip to Zambia was as usual humbling and inspiring. This was Claras’ first visit to Zambia and our first day was spent with the widows from Chikumbuso. Chikumbuso always has an inviting and an incredibly peaceful environment and the women happily showed us around the facilities that show a well organised school for orphaned and underprivileged kids, a kitchen facility where lunches are provided for the students and the women and a small boarding facility.
Our chikumbuso bags are crocheted here in Ngombe compound which is one of Lusakas’ largest slums. Our shweshwe range of bags and cushion covers are also sewn at the center. We continue to be inspired by these women and their determination to improve their lives.
This has been an exciting and busy year with lots of additional ranges to our collections. We would love to celebrate by meeting you in Stockholm. Join us!
……Psst take a look at our new collection. We have added a range of new colours to our collection Nsofwa, Kolwe and Nombe. Now we also have a small collection of organic crocheted rattles that are the perfect size for small baby hands. Our progress is slow and steady.
Each new product requires months of preparation. New designs are sent to Zambia. Yarn is ordered from Tanzania. The ladies from little Ndaba work through the designs and make a number of prototypes which get sent back to us in Sweden. Further changes are made and then finally a new product range arrives.
The economic situation in Zambia with dollar rates fluctuating on a daily basis, power and water shortages make planning and every day life for the average Zambian a nightmare and more so for the business person.
Once the products are in Sweden we work on the photography, product descriptions and sales and marketing. We continue to work on improving marketing strategies to increase sales so that the ladies can continue knitting and earning an income. One steady step at a time. As we say in Zambia panono panono!
We did it! I marvel at the possibilities that mobile phones and the Internet technology can provide for small producers in Africa. Outside of Monze- a remote area in Zambia, Malambo Center , a women’s cooperative operate. Here embroidered, painted and stitched handcrafts are lovingly created. Once a month, a few woman take the long bus journey into the big city of Lusaka to sell their products to tourists and city dwellers at a monthly craft market. The crafts sold provide an additional income for the women who also survive by tilling the land.
embroidered giraffe egg warmers
Handcrafted Easter decoration
I found the group via Facebook, came in contact with via e-mail, sent ideas on how I would like to change certain design. Via WhatsApp, I received pictures of the new design. I asked a friend to pick up my delivery when the women came to Lusaka and now these lovely egg warmers have arrived just in time in time for Easter. A long journey, but we did it.
Thank you internet, Facebook, Whatsapp, Celtel and MTN for making business with Africa a reality and helping people improve their everyday lives.
Easter decorations from Malambo Cooperative can be found here: