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The Process

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.

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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.

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Amazing women of Chikumbuso

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.

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Stylish Batik Cushion Covers

Just before Christmas in anticipation of 2015 Yawama of Sweden launches a small batik range of monochrome black and white cushion covers for the modernist or the earthy interior decorater. Would you like to add an ethical twist to your Scandinavian look? These batik cushion covers should do the trick. These cushions are not just African inspired but they are handmade in collaboration with Yawama of Sweden by women in Swaziland at Baobab.

batik cushion cover

Baobab is a small enterprise employing 25 women in Swaziland. All the women and predominantly single mothers. Baobab provides the women with tools to adapt to the growing responsibility and the shift in women’s roles in communities. Baobab is a member of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade), an organization that supports the development of the handicraft industry in the country.

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Batik cushion  leaves

These cushion covers have been created by skilled artisans through a tedious process. Hot melted wax is artistically applied in specific design to a white fabric. The fabric is then submerged into a dye bath, the wax acting as a resistant on the fabric allowing the uncovered fabric to be dyed. The fabric is then left to dry in the sun. This process is repeated layer upon layer. The wax is then removed by boiling the fabric and a unique fabric with a crackled effect is created. The dyed fabric is then cut and sewn into uniques pieces such as our batik covers.

Monochrome interior

black and white cushion cover

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Emily

Emily 67 År

Emily 67 Years Old

This is Emily one of the ladies behind our beloved ecological soft toy Kolwe. Emily is 67 years old, a widow and has 4 children. Her firstborn Lloyd is a farmer. Her second-born Ruth is married with 4 of her own children. Her third-born Feston is at teaching college and last-born Mapens is in grade 12 and living with his Aunty. Emily is a Minister at her local church, where she delivers sermons 3 times a week and keeps the church clean and tidy – all voluntarily!   Emily lives in a two roomed house at the church with 4 young children, 3 of whom belong to her sister’s daughter and 1 being her firstborn’s son.

She likes to get up at 4:00 am to write her sermons as it is quiet and calm at that time and she can pray in peace. Otherwise she is often disturbed by her neighbours seeking advice – she us clearly a well-respected member of the community!

Emily earns her living by doing peace work but these days mainly by knitting her toys. She says she has learnt so much about knitting from the other ladies as well as loves the socialising! The ladies have learnt masses from her too!  “When I first came I did not have skills but I have learnt from my friends. I am a widow woman, when i get a little it helps my family. I like laughing and doing so many things with my friends”

Ekological plush toys

Emily and her eko-monkeys

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Safe toys from Africa

YES YES YES. WE PASSED!

Test results

When this E mail came a few weeks ago I almost felt like I was back at school receiving exam results. After spending months trying to source an African organic cotton supplier, the little Ndaba team in Zambia together with the team at Yawama of Sweden ( Anna Lidström and Clara Lidström and myself) worked on new designs for the Yawama Kids.  You can only imagine my excitement when ALL our toys PASSED in ALL areas of the safety test.  I could not have done this alone. Thank you Charles at Little Ndaba and to Erin from Totoknits for your commitment to design, development and women empowerment in Africa.

Developing toys to meet  European safety standards can be costly business but can also be done in your home kitchen. We have tested both options. I have had so much support from Conformance and have run many trial run tests on our prototypes at home before sending our toys to the lab for analysis for official testing. So when I sent our 12 soft toys off I knew exactly what their fate was. Torture.

European standard EN 71 specifies safety requirements for toys with specific regulations for soft toys. Compliance with the standard is legally required for all toys sold in the European Union. The standard has been published in 12 parts and includes tests for flammability to ensure that fire does not spread quickly if the toy were to catch fire, mechanical testing to ensure that body parts and smaller parts can handle a certain weight before falling off and that dangerous elements are not present in the toy.

Further reading for those wishing to branch out in a similar venture

http://www.swedac.se/sv/Omraden/Ovriga-omraden/CE-markning/

http://www.sp.se/sv/index/services/toys/sidor/default.aspx

https://www.gov.uk/toy-manufacturers-and-their-responsibilities

http://oddsandsoxlets.co.uk/handmade-toys-ce-marking/

 

 

 

 

 

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Yawama Kids och Underbaraclara

Yawama Kids

Yawama Kids

Savannahome of Sweden changes name to Yawama of Sweden.  We have changed focus, worked on new designs and rebranded. Our big vision is to combine African craftsmanship with good Swedish design and sound business practices.

In conjunction with the name change I am proud to launch a children’s collection which has been developed with Clara Lidstrom, better known as Underbaraclara, one of Sweden’s largest bloggers and Anna Lidström, an established designer and stylist.  I am totally humbled to be working with these vibrant and talented women, who both share my passion to develop small business in particular women in Africa, and both share my commitment to respect the environment.

Nicola Fackel, Clara Lidström, Anna Lidström

The team-Nicola Fackel, Clara Lidström, Anna Lidström

Together we have developed the concept Yawama Kids – a children’s line that is totally unique. The collection includes products for children of all ages – that respect both planet and people. An ecological range of soft toys, hand painted cushion covers and recycled storage solutions. Our soft toys have been hand knitted using African grown organic cotton, and have been developed and tested to meet EU standards for Toy Safety. We are one of a few African toy brands that carry the CE Label. We are so proud to have made a product that we know is safe for your baby . Knowing that these toys have been hand-knitted by a Zambian mother gives me a greater thrill. We are totally committed to our vision of supporting small-scale producers in Africa, often women or widows, and ever thankful to the entrepreneurs,  and organisations that we work with in Africa for their commitment towards the same goals.

Our new product range has not just developed over night. It has taken months and months of planning, meetings, developing, research, sampling, styling, photographing and testing. Our goal has been to produce a unique children’s collection, without sacrificing quality, design or conditions of the producers. Something simply good. And that’s what YAWAMA means in my tribal language,  IT IS GOOD!

Fairtrade toys

Handknitted Plush toys

“I dont just see a cuddly toy, because that’s what it is. I see Mary and I see her son Junior, and I see his future.”

Producers

I sincerely hope you will follow us along our Yawama journey