Mobile Technology changing lives for women in Zambia

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.

egg warmers

embroidered giraffe egg warmers


Handcrafted Easter decoration

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.

Malambo Center

Easter decorations from Malambo Cooperative  can  be found here:

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

Improved trade within Africa

This week we finally received som fabric that was ordered from South Africa and delivered to the Chikumbuso Womens Group in Ngombe Lusaka who are to work on new cushion designs for Yawama of Sweden. The payment was made for the material in October 2014. An application was then made for SADC certification which would allow the material to be imported into Zambia duty-free. A period of close to 5 months where money has been tied into stock and planned production deadlines moved forward. Similar hurdles have been met when importing yarn into Zambia from Kenya where duties have suddenly been slapped onto goods from Kenya, even though both Kenya and Zambia are part of the free trade COMESA region.

African trade has to be made simpler, more cost-effective and efficient for continued economic growth and to be competitive for world export markets as summed up in this world bank documentary.

Of great kin- Julia Chikamoneka

She left this world in 1986, but her spirit lives on. Thank  you Julia Chikamoneka for standing up for our rights as the people of Zambia. For believing that you could make a difference. For fighting with the only weapons you had -your voices, your bodies, your vision for a better future for generations to come. As Zambia celebrates 50 years of independence today I reflect upon this great woman who was one of a number of women who were a part of the liberation struggle. I am proud and honoured to be of such great kin.

Mary Lombe  daughter to Mulenga Lombe son of Chief Chitimukulu-Ponde of Zambias Bemba ethnic group, was born in 1904. She later was christened Julia and even later took the name Chikamoneka (meaning “victory will be seen”) for her fearless attitude in Northern Rhodesia‘s independence struggle and as a mantle to cover her operations during the independence struggle.

She started her career as a housemaid, then became a restaurant owner, during which period she became politically involved attending rallies, planning protest marches, and organizing boycotts of shops that discriminated based on race. Not having a formal education did not hinder  her from being a leader in the independence struggle. Chikamoneka was known for her effective fundraising in addition to leading protest marches. She also provided food and shelter for people politically involved and risked arrest by opening her house for political meetings. She inspired women to take an active role in the independence struggle.

Julia Chikamoneka, along with Zambia’s first ever First Lady, Betty Kaunda, Emilia Saidi and Mandalena Mumba petitioned colonial authorities for the release of detained political party leaders. Her most dramatic protest occurred in 1960 when she marched to the District Commissioner’s office and slapped him. Then, accompanied by Emilia Saidi and Mandalena Mumba, proceeded to strip down to her waist before leading a group of women protesters on a march to the national airport.

Affectionately called “Mama UNIP” for her contributions to the party that led Zambia to independence. Her contribution was publicly acknowledged, in 1969, when President Kenneth Kaunda (1924– ) bestowed her with the Order of Distinguished Service. When she died in 1986 she was accorded a state funeral and buried with full military honors.

I have indulged in a number of pictures from this era from the National Archives in the UK.

Portests in 1960s_Zambia

Protests in 1960s_Zambia (source The National Archives UK)

Happy Independence day Zambia!

Further Reading and references:

Swecare sub-saharan Africa day II

Northwestern Province

Motorcykel NorthWestern Province Zambia.
Source: Rose Marie Westling

Norwestern Province Zambia

Mountain bike Northwestern Province Zambia Source : Rose-marie Westling

“All eyes on Africa.”

Nu är Afrika mer aktuell än någonsin för FDI ( foreign Direct investment). Länderna som Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Etiopien anses vara Länder där företag borde finnas.  Swecare sub-saharan Africa day hade sitt andra seminarium, där man igår visade affärsmöjligheter för Svenska företag med fokus på hälsosektorn i Zambia och Uganda.  Nya sätt att samarbeta förespråkas såsom Private Public Partnerships.  Nya användnings områden för mobilteknologi inom hälsosektorn, svensk tillverkad utrustning för behandling av tumörer och management contracts var några av många affärer som är aktuella idag.

Har själv jobbat inom hälsosektorn i Zambia och förstår vilka stora brister som finns inom sektorn.  Här skrev jag en kort artikel om child health i Africa.  Att staten har en tydlig fokus på förbättring med nya investeringar är mycket positivt.

Men varför är Afrika så hett just nu?

Erika Bjeström journalist och författare till boken Det Nya Afrika tar fram sju punkter.

1. Demokrati

2. Infrastruktur till följd av investeringar från Kina

3. IT & Mobil revolution

4. Skuldlättnad

5. Högre BRICS. Ökad pris på råvaror

6. Direkt investering högre än bistånd

7. En växande medelklass

Jag kände mig super stolt att se Zambia lyftas på ett piedestal igår och ser verkligen fram  emot att se svenska företagare som viktiga aktörer i Zambia.

Vi vill skapa arbete.

Änkor från Chikumbuso  virkar strandväskor

Änkor från Chikumbuso virkar strandväskor ( source Chikumbuso)

Arbetslöshet är ett av de mest angelägna globala utvecklings prioriteringar och en ny global utvecklingsram måste uttryckligen fokusera på att skapa meningsfulla arbetstillfällen, bygga upp kompetens och anställbarhet, med målet att uppnå full sysselsättning.

Arbetslösheten i Afrika söder om Sahara, särskilt bland unga människor, hotar stabiliteten, kväver den ekonomiska tillväxten och utgör en stor personlig tragedi för de miljoner som inte kan förverkliga sin fulla potential i livet. Mer om detta kan du läsa i Richard Gilberts blog på business fights poverty.

Trots de senaste positiva ekonomiska utvecklingen i Afrika så påstås befolkningsökningen  vara det största hotet mot Afrikas utveckling.  Läs mer här.

Savannahomes vision är att kunna skapa meningsfulla arbetstillfällen och att hjälpa små producenter, kvinnogrupper och NGOs att kunna utvecklas ekonomiskt och personligt. Vi vill stödja produktion av hög kvalitet och modern design. Vi vill skapa marknadsmöjligheter för deras kreationer. Vi vill hjälpa kunden att komma allt närmare producenten.

Zambisk sophantering

I Zambia är sopor ett stort problem då sophantering så som sophämtning knappt existerar, varje hushåll får helt enklet göra sig av med sina sopor på bästa sätt. Vanligt är att man eldar eller gräver ner dem. Inne  i städerna är det dock svårt och soporna hamnar ofta på bakgator och i diken, och dagvatten  brunnar fylls. Men som det heter ”one mans trash, another mans tresure”, det finns många som tjänar sitt leverbröd på att ta till vara på dessa sopor. Urdruckna vatten- och läskflaskor fylls på nytt med matolja och säljs på marknaden, gamla däck skärs upp och används till allt möjligt (slangbellor, knyta fast lasten, laga ledningar…), tetrapak används att driva upp plantor i, kartonger tas om hand och säljes för några kronor styck. Hade det inte varit för dessa hårt arbetande människor som ser möjligheter med sånt som anses skräp så hade problemet varit ännu större. Nu finns det i alla fall återvinning på en liten skala och förhoppningsvis kan fler se möjligheterna med att utveckla detta inför framtiden.

IMG_0799Sopor slängda på en bakgata i Kabwe, Zambia.

P1090978Gamla däckslangar som skurits upp och säljes, slangbellor även dem gjorda av däckslangar.

återvunna kartongerTillvaratagna kartonger säljes för några kronor styck, Kabwe, Zambia.

Africa is a great country

I samarbete med fotografen Jens Assur visar SIDA en fotoutställning om 40 fotografier i storformat från tretton storstäder i Afrika på Liljevalchs konsthall. Bilderna visar en alternativ bild av Afrika, präglad av stark ekonomisk tillväxt och där utvecklingen går framåt i hög fart. På utställningen möter besökaren människor vars liv inte skiljer sig från våra liv, som delar samma urbana verklighet och ställs inför samma utmaningar. Ett Afrika i förändring. Utställningen visas 13 april – 2 juni, 2013 och kommer sedan att turnera i Sverige.

Mera bilder finns på SIDAs webbsida här.

Dar es SalaamFoto: Jens Assur

Dar es SalaamFoto: Jens Assur (source SIDA)

BBCs exploring Africa Series


Baby elephant dying on BBCs new Africa series

Baby elephant dying on BBCs new Africa series. Source Simon Blakeney.The sun


David Attenborough’s new Africa series watched by over 6 1/2 million vieweres on its first episode, travels through the vast and diverse continent of Africa, from the soaring Atlas Mountains to the Cape of Good Hope, the brooding jungles of the Congo to the raging Atlantic Ocean.

The series, filmed over four years, explores the whole continent, uncovering bizarre new creatures and extraordinary behaviours. Here series producer James Honeyborne, producer Simon Blakeney and director Felicity Egerton talk about the experience of making Africa.

This weeks episode showing a slow painful death of a baby elephant was critisized by viewers who felt that BBC crew could have prevented the death. The full story was covered by the sun.