Several years ago while visiting Swaziland (a tiny Kingdom) I had visited a small women’s development programme, on the recommendation of a friend of mine. The group, called Tintsaba, consisted of about 12 women, who had mastered the art of weaving sisal, a tough grass-like, invasive weed that grows extensively throughout Swaziland. The project had been started by Sheila Freemantle, to help rural Swazi women earn a living. The resulting baskets, were ingenious, as the women painstakingly hand dyed the grass threads and then coiled and weaved them into small masterpieces. The group has since grown, to over 900 women, and their baskets have gained global recognition, exhibiting in galleries all over the world. A focus on individual development has always been a core value of Tintsaba’s - creating an environment where the women can participate in HIV/AIDS training workshops, a literacy training programme called Tintsaba Reads and have access to a mobile health clinic. More recently, Tintsaba established a silver jewellery workshop, with the objective of refining the traditional coiling technique and combining it with silver to create a range of beautiful bracelets and pendants. A selection of the silver bracelets are available from Bundu Designs.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Taking advantage of Rugby crazy South Africa, the TOUCH initiative is a non-profit organisation that trains unemployed seamstresses to make rugby balls out of old billboards and plastic bags collected from the streets of communities across the country. Even the inside of the rugby balls use recycled products – they are stuffed with between 25 and 30 plastic bags. The seamstresses are paid for each ball that they make that meets the TOUCH quality measures. The project hopes to educate people about the possibilities created by re-using waste and the opportunities it presents for employment.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Empowering, handmade paper mache bowls, inspired by the vibrant prints of the Congo, are doing their bit, by helping contribute towards the drought and famine crisis in the Horn of Africa.
In a partnership between Bundu Designs and global aid agency Mercy Corps, a range of vibrant African print bowls are helping to raise awareness of the famine and drought crisis in the horn of Africa. By contributing $6 per bowl sold, to the Horn of Africa disaster relief fund, the bowls are making a striking statement both visually and socially.
The beautiful and innovative range of bowls, which take 4 hours to make by hand, are created out of recycled magazines by a craft project in South Africa that supports HIV positive women and children.
Across the eastern Horn of Africa, more than 13 million people are now in need of emergency assistance to survive. 4 million are living through the worst famine in 20 years. The crisis is the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today, and the worst that East Africa has seen in six decades. The Mercy Corps Horn of Africa emergency fund supports teams on the ground that are providing critical services to children and families who urgently need aid. The purchase of one small bowl provides a $6 donation which in turn provides a severely malnourished child with six servings of fortified food. Bowls are available from Bundu Designs.
Monday, November 14, 2011
In a world of big name athletics apparel companies and their sketchy sweat shop reputations, it takes a bunch of brave lads to take on that world. Chris Markl is not one to shy away from a challenge, riding 1,800 miles from Canada to Mexico to raise the initial start-up capital for his brand Kourage. Economics professor and running enthusiast Markl, first became interested in the idea of producing an ethical clothing line when he was researching textiles factories in Honduras as part of his Ph.D. He wanted to start his own company to benefit the people of impoverished areas directly, by being in their country, hiring only those within the country and reinvesting money in the country. Being a running enthusiast, Markl settled on Kenya, because of the amazing story and reputation of Kenyan runners. Tired of seeing Kenya’s world star athletes wearing American and British running gear, Kourage has visions of Kenyan athletes wearing Kenyan gear. The brand officially launched in July focusing on a very cool t-shirt range with plans to eventually make everything from running shorts to hooded sweatshirts. We'll keep our eye on them and watch the grow.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Every couple of weeks at Bundu Designs we concentrate on a featured category and try to source new and inspiring products from across Africa and showcase the best of African talent. For the past month our focus has been on ‘Bags from Africa’. We have already featured several incredible bag producers – Mongoose, Rooikop, Dsenyo, Fashion. Love, Africa, Mielie, Carmina Campus, Vivienne Westwood, Trashy Bags, Give It Bag – now we have a new one to add to our growing list. Project Sierra Leone (our first Sierra Leone feature), produces a striking range of beaded clutch bags that are hand beaded by a group of women in Sierra Leone. Started by Margaret Kadi, who had returned to her home country on a vacation after being away for 17 years and was inspired by a group of artisans whose craftsmanship she admired. She made the decision to stay and work with them, designing a contemporary range of bags allowing them to reach a wider market and not rely on the scant tourist trade. This small stylish collection fits in really nicely with our current selection, so we are hoping to have some of the them available on the Bundu Designs website soon.
I get inspired and excited when I come across smart, innovative designers that are creating products that are not only very cool, but very sustainable. TYRED Sustainable Lifestyle Furniture was started over a year ago by South African, Sean Smith, after finding a pile of tires and figuring out what to do with them. Sean came up with a design to use the tire’s as they were, without cutting or melting, and developed a durable, aesthetically pleasing “pod” like product. By taking used and old tyres, his company now creates chairs, ottomans and tables that can be used indoors and outdoors. While helping the environment, Tyred is also making a social impact by donating almost 80% of their profit to the charity Men on the Side of the Road, and the rest to designers and production. The latest range of seating comes in the form of custom illustrated designs by some of South Africa’s top illustrators and artists. Check out the work by Love and Hate, Dylan Jones, Senyol, Bruce Mackay and more.
Helping the environment, helping people. We like!