<span style='color: #002d56;'>Ithunga Africa - Zulu baskets</span>

Ithunga Africa - Zulu baskets

Here is Nomkhosi who makes some Zulu baskets for us. Three villages have been regenerated through our basket supplier who, concerned that skills were being lost through the number of people dying of aids, has encouraged the older generation to teach their children and grandchildren to weave. He supplies the raw material (Ilala palm) and can be justifiably proud that he has been instrumental in helping these communities to earn a decent living in a very rural area where there is no other work.
Click here to be taken to the basket department

<span style='color: #002d56;'>Ilala Weavers - Telephone Wire Baskets</span>

Ilala Weavers - Telephone Wire Baskets

"In 1980 Ilala Weavers was born, starting life in a home-based farm shed. This was a difficult time in South Africa's history, being in the heart of the Apartheid era, and with sanctions in place it was almost impossible to export any of the crafts, despite numerous enquiries. However, due to the fact that we were helping grass-roots artists, the USA finally agreed to allow our products in, provided each shipment was accompanied with a sworn declaration stating that we were in no way sponsored by, or connected to any Parastatal organisation. In the late-1980's we moved to our present position, when an old farmhouse became available on the outskirts of Hluhluwe village"
Fast forward to 1994 ........a High Point in the history of South Africa, with the advent of our first successful Democratic Election following the release of Nelson Mandela. This generated a lot of interest in South Africa, and Tourism expanded dramatically, which in turn generated a lot of interest in the handcrafts of the country, which further boosted the growth of Ilala Weavers. We experienced several high-points of our own during this year, the first being when our son Craig joined Ilala Weavers after completing his university education. Also in this year, Ilala Weavers was awarded the SBDC Trophy for "The Most Innovative Exporter of the Year", as well as the Sunday Tribune/Coopers & Lybrand "Exporter of the Year for SMME's" ......WOW!!
In 1996 the opportunity arose for us to purchase the old farmhouse and surrounding property, and we undertook a major renovation/facelift, with new offices, extended storage and packaging area, plus a retail "Gallery", Restaurant, and Museum, the latter to showcase the many awesome and unique antique Zulu artifacts collected over the years. During this year, Craig's twin brother, Jeremy, joined the ranks, yet another high-point for us!
In 1998, Craig married Jackie, who had been a team-member of Ilala Weavers for the past 4 years. ..... There is no need for me to say what an invaluable member of Ilala Weavers Jackie is! - And today, Craig and Jackie make a formidable managerial team together, whilst Mike and I try very hard to slow down!
Having experienced so many "highs" over the years, we sadly experienced the worst possible "low" on the 30th August, 2000, when our dear Jeremy was shot and killed whilst on a field trip to collect and pay for lampshades for an order. Suffice to say, this occurrence effected us all, including all the crafters, who had a great deal of respect and affection for Jeremy, and came in their droves to pay their last respects. As is customary in the Zulu culture, gifts are presented to the bereaved family at a funeral, and we were overwhelmed with gifts of woven baskets, mats and money. The monies were used to purchase trees, which were planted in Jeremy's memory, and which, today, are beginning to provide shade for the crafters when they visit Ilala Weavers to sell their wares, as we no longer make field trips, but instead pay for their transport to us.
Ilala Weavers keeps going.............and it is hoped it will continue to do so for many years to come. click here to be taken to the section in the shop

<span style='color: #002d56;'>Bolgatanga Baskets</span>

Bolgatanga Baskets

These gorgeous round baskets come from Northern Ghana.
Our baskets are supplied by Baba Tree Baskets - top quality baskets woven by Artisans who are paid well above the local average for their work.

" The main reason for basket weaving in this region is due to the poor fertility of the soil around Bolgatanga, making it unsuitable for extensive agricultural activities. The region also suffers from erratic rainfall patterns and harsh weather conditions, meaning they can only grow enough to sustain their families, leaving nothing to take to market. So mainly the women have supplemented their household income with handicraft activities such as basket weaving, leather work and pottery.
Bolga baskets are woven using Veta vera straw, known locally as kinkahe (elephant grass) which is collected from the tops of the grass stalk, then each piece is split in half vertically. Each half of the split straw is then twisted tightly by rolling it to give it strength. The straw is put in bunches and dyed in boiling water. For bright colours the straw is dyed yellow first, then the colour. The weaver carefully selects appropriate straw for the base, sides and handle. The selection of the proper grass for various parts of the basket is critical to good weaving. Weaving starts at the base and works up to the rim. The rims are wrapped with straw to form a tube like edge. The handles are made with a sturdy wrapping technique around a grass core. Remaining bits of straw that are sticking out of the basket are carefully trimmed off. Leather handles are skillfully applied by local leather workers. A medium basket takes about 3 days. Some shapes and patterns are more difficult to weave and take longer.
The original Bolga basket was woven round, without any form of handle. The ends of the straw were left untrimmed. It was used basically as a sieve in the brewing of a local alcoholic beverage called pito. Pito was and still is an important drink during such occasions as funerals, marriage ceremonies, festivals, naming ceremonies and other important social occasions.
Click here to be taken to the Basket shop

<span style='color: #002d56;'>Incomparable Ceramic Buttons</span>

Incomparable Ceramic Buttons

Most of the Incomparable team had never held a paintbrush before they joined the company and are now absolute masters of their brushes and justifiably proud of their work.
The ladies sense of belonging within the company and skills as crafters not only gives them tremendous pleasure but also working under Fair Trade policies provides them with economic empowerment and has uplifted their families. Click here to be directed to the button department in the shop!
Quotes:
Thandi Motha
Working at the button factory has helped me to have housing and to send Sipho to nursery school . I have worked for INCOMPARABLE for about 16 years now.I have been the Personnel manager for the last 6 years.My sisters Maria and Pindi as well as my aunt Martha and her daughter Thulisile all work here. Thulisile has just got her drivers licence and she paid for her last year of schooling by working part time at our company.
Nokhuthula
I come from Swaziland and I struggled to find work ..I started working for INCOMPARABLE 14 years ago and have been able to send money back to my family every month.
Martha Shongwe
Me and my daughter Thulisile work for Incomparable. I have 5 children and no husband. I have supported them all to begin with from my salary. Now Thulisile works for us and my son Mandla also
Clementina Ipalleng ( Ipalleng means read for yourself)
Incomparable has helped me a lot. I am a breadwinner with 3 children aged 13, 4 and 1 year. I have worked here for 13 years and I am the painting Supervisor. I love my job very much. Miss Jen (our boss who started the company) is like our family. All our problems are on her head and she tries always to help us.I hope my children can work for her one day.
Martha
My husband died and I have 5 children none of them are working except Gladys who also works with me at INCOMPARABLE. I support all of them myself. I have been working for Incomparable for 15 years now. They help me with loans sometimes and also to support my family. I never want to work anywhere else.

<span style='color: #002d56;'>Mothers for All</span>

Mothers for All

Mothers for All is a non profit organisation that supports the women in Botswana and South Africa who are caring for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. The trust's primary focus is teaching income-generating skills to the orphans' caregivers- mainly women - often with little means, often caring for more than one child - thereby providing a sustainable means of support for them and their charges.
Mothers for All also aims to provide a social network through which the orphan caregivers can share their experiences, challenges and knowledge. Ultimately the women will be taught permaculture and food gardening and will be given environmental awareness training.

Pictured here are the ladies from Ghanzi group Click here to see the fabulous stitchmarkers they make for us

Kebaeditse BotsholoKebaeditse Botsholo
Bobonong, affectionately known as "Bob City", is a village located in the Central District of Botswana, 80 km from Selibe Phikwe. Bobonong has a population of nearly 20,000 and a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS and unemployment. The Bobonong mothers are very enthusiastic about the project as they are already skilled paper bead makers thanks to instruction by a resident Peace Corps volunteer
Rose JabaneRose Jabane
Selebi-Phikwe is in the eastern region of Botswana. It has a population of nearly 60 000 people, many of whom work for the local copper-nickel mine. Recent ante-natal statistics revealed that 50% of pregnant mothers were HIV-positive (Sentinel Surveilance 2007). Selebi-Phikwe has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in Botswana and therefore has the highest relative number of orphans and vulnerable children. This is one of the reasons why Mothers for All is targeted this area first.

Our first group of mothers have all been affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. For instance Maipelo, a grandmother, has lost a daughter and sister and caring for five children. Letia, Rose and Tshwarelo have both lost sisters and have been left with the responsibility of their children as well as their own. All of these women have very few resources and are therefore benefitting from the Mothers for All income-generation projects. Other women in similar situations were inspired by the success and enthusiasm of this first group and have asked to join the group. Mothers for All therefore now has a second group in Selebi-Phikwe.
Letia DumelaysLetia Dumelays
Selebi-Phikwe is in the eastern region of Botswana. It has a population of nearly 60 000 people, many of whom work for the local copper-nickel mine. Recent ante-natal statistics revealed that 50% of pregnant mothers were HIV-positive (Sentinel Surveilance 2007). Selebi-Phikwe has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in Botswana and therefore has the highest relative number of orphans and vulnerable children. This is one of the reasons why Mothers for All is targeted this area first.

Our first group of mothers have all been affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. For instance Maipelo, a grandmother, has lost a daughter and sister and caring for five children. Letia, Rose and Tshwarelo have both lost sisters and have been left with the responsibility of their children as well as their own. All of these women have very few resources and are therefore benefitting from the Mothers for All income-generation projects. Other women in similar situations were inspired by the success and enthusiasm of this first group and have asked to join the group. Mothers for All therefore now has a second group in Selebi-Phikwe.
Kegomoditse LetsoKegomoditse Letso
Kegomoditse Letso: She cares for 5 children, including 3 orphans. She cares for them with her daughter

Kegomoditse Letso lives in Maun. Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It has developed rapidly in the last few decades from a rural frontier village on the Thamalakane River into a bustling town where wild buck can still be seen grazing next to local cattle, donkeys and goats. However high rates of unemployment and HIV have meant that many families in the town and surrounding settlements live in poverty, sickness and despair.

The group in Maun got off to a slow start with a small initial turnout. However, as the women have seen what they can make out of waste paper, the group has grown in size, commitment, enthusiasm and skill.
Susan ModukuSusan Moduku
Susan Moduku lives at home with her mother, sister and younger brother. She has 5 children of her own and helps care for her younger brother and her sister’s 2 small children who live with them. She is the only wage earner in the household.


Susan lives in Ghanzi - also known as 'The capital of the Kalahari' - is situated in western Botswana and is extremely remote from the rest of the country. The Ghanzi community is a conglomeration of ethnic groups - Bushmen, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana and Afrikaners, who own many of the farms. The main employment is on the cattle farms and there are several Remote Area Development (RDA) settlements in the area. These are part of a national government programme which aims to provide basic social services like schools, health facilities and training in income generation as services and employment opportunities are extremely limited.

Mothers for All is partnering with Window of Hope, a non-profit organisation which provides psychosocial support to orphans and vulnerable children and their caregivers through after-school programmes, life skills training and caregiver support groups. Mothers for All is teaching the caregivers of these orphans and vulnerable children how to make the paper bead jewellery. Two groups of six Mothers received training, which was very well received.
Gaowele SegoleGaowele Segole
Gaowele Segole: She has two children of her own and cares for 2 other children. She is the sole earner in the home


Gaowele lives in Maun, the tourism capital of Botswana as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It has developed rapidly in the last few decades from a rural frontier village on the Thamalakane River into a bustling town where wild buck can still be seen grazing next to local cattle, donkeys and goats. However high rates of unemployment and HIV have meant that many families in the town and surrounding settlements live in poverty, sickness and despair.

The group in Maun got off to a slow start with a small initial turnout. However, as the women have seen what they can make out of waste paper, the group has grown in size, commitment, enthusiasm and skill.
Onneile MotlhabanareOnneile Motlhabanare
Onneile Motlhabanare lives at home with her father. She cares for her five younger siblings, three girls and two boys. She is the sole wage earner


Onneile lives in Ghanzi - also known as 'The capital of the Kalahari' - is situated in western Botswana and is extremely remote from the rest of the country. The Ghanzi community is a conglomeration of ethnic groups - Bushmen, Bakgalagadi, Baherero, Batawana and Afrikaners, who own many of the farms. The main employment is on the cattle farms and there are several Remote Area Development (RDA) settlements in the area. These are part of a national government programme which aims to provide basic social services like schools, health facilities and training in income generation as services and employment opportunities are extremely limited.

Mothers for All is partnering with Window of Hope, a non-profit organisation which provides psychosocial support to orphans and vulnerable children and their caregivers through after-school programmes, life skills training and caregiver support groups. Mothers for All is teaching the caregivers of these orphans and vulnerable children how to make the paper bead jewellery. Two groups of six Mothers received training, which was very well received.
Tudetso GakelonaTudetso Gakelona
Tudetso Gakelona: She has two children of her own and cares for 7 other children

Tudestso lives in Maun. Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It has developed rapidly in the last few decades from a rural frontier village on the Thamalakane River into a bustling town where wild buck can still be seen grazing next to local cattle, donkeys and goats. However high rates of unemployment and HIV have meant that many families in the town and surrounding settlements live in poverty, sickness and despair.

The group in Maun got off to a slow start with a small initial turnout. However, as the women have seen what they can make out of waste paper, the group has grown in size, commitment, enthusiasm and skill.
Lethata SebaranganeLethata Sebarangane
Lethata Sebarangane: She has two of her own children and cares for two children from her sister who has passed away. She is the sole earner in her home

Lethata lives in Maun. Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It has developed rapidly in the last few decades from a rural frontier village on the Thamalakane River into a bustling town where wild buck can still be seen grazing next to local cattle, donkeys and goats. However high rates of unemployment and HIV have meant that many families in the town and surrounding settlements live in poverty, sickness and despair.

The group in Maun got off to a slow start with a small initial turnout. However, as the women have seen what they can make out of waste paper, the group has grown in size, commitment, enthusiasm and skill.
<span style='color: #002d56;'>Iziko Lo Lwazi</span>

Iziko Lo Lwazi

Iziko Lo Lwazi is the Xhosa phrase for 'Centre of Learning'. A non profit organisation dedicated to promoting enterprise and personal development through education, training and skills transfer.
Started in 1998 as an adult literacy programme offering free English lessons in the library at the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, Cape Town, the main objective of the project was to improve English language skills in order for women to enhance their chances of finding employment.However, it soon became evident that education, by itself, was seen as a luxury; there was a desperate need to put food on the table. No food meant no energy to learn. The solution: to combine "learning" with earning. Several years on, Iziko Lo Lwazi now operates out of two refurbished containers donated by the Freddy Hirsch Group and a Wendy House that houses the craft-shop, all within the grounds of Hout Bay Community Cultural Centre, where a plethora of fine paper and beading crafts are now made and sold.
The Iziko Lo Lwazi Crafters Project has had a positive effect on the community by providing fundamental skills to support a better life. It encourages entrepreneurship and pride in achievement. Currently 18 women work at Iziko Lo Lwazi and support some 65 people with what they earn.
Injabulo bought all manner of products from Iziko in the past but a few years ago Chrissie decided to refine the product range and set them the challenge of making Stitchmarkers. Now many years later they are still making these beautiful Stitchmarkers for us.

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