Craft as a tool to lift women out of poverty

women crocheting bags in Zambia

women crocheting bags in Zambia

In Zambia 80% of the labour force work in the informal sector earning less than USD 2 per day. These are traders, crafters, rural enterprises, home businesses and are predominantly women. People living in rural peripherals especially women shoulder the burden of world poverty. 60% of the world’s poor are women and girls.

The aspen institute states that craft industry is the second largest employer in the developing world after agriculture. This sector specifically in Zambia has an undeveloped and inconsistent local market. The craft industry further accounts for more than 60% of creative goods exports. Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world, largely women, participate in the artisan sector. For many, their livelihood depends on income earned from their artisan activities.

African small-scale artisans have limited access to western markets because producers lack information on export markets, know how, trends, sourcing and marketing channels.  Production often takes place in remote areas with poor communications and small production volumes result in higher production costs and difficulties to compete with cheap mass-produced goods. Producers are often limited with no access to finances.

At Yawama of Sweden we believe that supporting and working with individual craftsmen, NGOs and small businesses through a long-term commitment is an effective and sustainable way of changing people’s lives. We aim at supporting our producers by

  • Merging Scandinavian design into product design and development
  • Training and information on regulations and standards for EU markets
  • Sourcing and supply of eco-friendly material
  • Start up finances
  • Access to direct markets excluding middle men from the value chain
  • Using internet and mobile technology to connect suppliers to producers and producers to markets

By investing in artisans Yawama of Sweden are reinvesting into family futures. Women working with Yawama of Sweden are able to see their income increased by a factor of 4. Women have been able to reinvest their income into nutrition and education. An investment in one woman is a future investment for a family of 6 people.

the making of a soft toy

Women knitting soft toys in Zambia


Spider arbetar med händerna

The making of bottle top baskes

This entry was posted in Africa Now, Import Guide and tagged , , , by NICKY. Bookmark the permalink.


I was raised on a farm in Zambia. My Dad comes from Kalix in Sweden and my mother from what used to be a small village outside of Lusaka. I first moved to Sweden to study business. My experience and lessons learned today are from international business and development work primarily in Southern Africa but also from my passion for Africa, its people and vast craftsmanship.

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