16 March 2012
The lives of rural women in parts of KwaZulu-Natal are changing for the better now that their arts and crafts are being properly marketed and sold, with help from the Siyazisiza Trust.
The Trust, started in 1987, operates in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, and opens up distribution channels for the women. It also provides the women with training and financial literacy.
The Trust works with affiliate organisation Khumbulani Craft, which provides job skills and practical business training to crafters in the KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.
Deputy Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa visited Nongoma on Monday to see for herself how women are trying to eradicate poverty and sustain their lives through their art.
Xasa urged the women to persevere with their businesses because apart from financial gains, their craft also told stories about the country’s history and culture.
Phumla Mnganga, chairperson of the Siyazisiza Trust, told BuaNews that illiteracy rates among rural women were high, “so they don’t always understand the concepts of costing. We provide organisational capacity and help them create proper structures for their work.”
Some of the women’s work has been used to decorate the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, and had it not been for the Trust, they would not have had such an opportunity, despite being highly skilled in their craft.
Tourism company Tourvest is another distribution channel made possible by the Trust.
“We are aware that often such partnerships tend to be exploitative,” Xasa said. “We are assured that, through the involvement of the Siyazisiza Trust, the women receive a fair price for their crafts.”
Xasa said the partnership was a great example of how, through socio-economic development, rural craft women were being empowered.
The government has prioritised the development of a culture and heritage strategy for South Africa, which will identify ways of turning culture and heritage into sought-after attractions.
“We also are looking at unlocking the economic development of these products,” Xasa said.