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.
I 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:
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.
Women knitting soft toys in Zambia
The making of bottle top baskes
I have always loved baskets. A passion that has been passed on from my mother and most certainly passed on from generations far back. My baskets in my home make nifty storage solutions in my home, while my grandmother and my great-grandmother would have used them for fishing, harvesting maize from the fields and storage of food untill next years harvest.
Elle Decoration South Africa article , “The art of weaving” brings life to basketmaking, almost like a song. I can almost feel the tropical winds blowing and hear that gentle rustle of the elephant grass that I am so familiar with.
In tune with the cycle of agriculture, basketmaking follows a seasonal rhythm. There is a time for gathering grass or rushes and a time for weaving them into baskets, sieves and granaries used for harvesting.
Grasses and reads used for basketmaking ( source Elle decoration South Africa)
First row left – right: Combination of random and coil weave, twist weave, beginning of random weave. Second row left – right: Loop stitch woven into a Dilly bag, loop stitch woven, random weave. ( source Elle decoration)
Photographs above Niel Vosloo – Production Laureen Rossouw and Hendrik Coetzee
Pastels for children’s rooms is here to stay. Combing a clean streamlined Scandinavian look with pastels is both calming and inviting. The diy option creating something new with your flea market finds is the creative option to create this fresh look, be it an old shelf, some colourful textiles or some old toys.
Some DIY inspiration from Underbaraclaras World where soft pastel shades of pink, blue and green are painted onto storage boxes. Colourful, playful and useful.
Pastel storage and shelving for kids from Underbaraclara
Yawama of Sweden cow and lion cushion cover for kids in pastel pink and more daring orange combination.
Knitted cow in pastel pink and pastel pink cushion
A kids Room in Malmö where pastels and orange make a vibrant and eye-catching combo.
Pastel greens, blues and purples,
Pastels from Therese Winberg
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.