We have recently started selling some beautiful products from Swaziland, and wanted to find out more about this tiny country as we seek to better understand the lives of the producers we are supporting.
80% of Swaziland’s population live in rural areas, generally working in agriculture and over half live on less that $2 a day. It’s an absolute monarchy, where political expression and political parties are not allowed. The King receives all his money from a fund set up by his father, which is worth around $2 billion and funds his lifestyle, 13 wives and many children. He is able to use the fund to acquire equity in all of the major critical businesses in Swaziland, including foreign ones. The King and this fund are immune from taxation, civil suits and criminal prosecution.
Life is hard for the people of Swaziland and particularly hard for women, many of whom have lost their husbands either through HIV/AIDS or through them leaving the country in an attempt to find work. The products we stock are created by such women and provide them with a sustainable and fair income and provide the opportunity to become businesswomen in their own homes.
We are passionate about supporting the women of Swaziland which is why we are delighted to be stocking a variety of stunning pieces. One of our favourite collections is the woven homeware created by Gone Rural.
Started in the 1970s Gone Rural’s aim was to empower women living in Swaziland’s most remote areas. Their founder Jenny Thorne built on the women’s existing weaving skills and designed beautiful homeware items which they would be able to weave by hand. This work gave the women confidence, fair earnings and sustainable employment which they then took home to their families and communities.
These women are talented artisans, breadwinners, and businesswomen, who weave their wares from home. Since 2009, the weavers have elected leaders to sit on a Rural Artisan Board, where they represent the needs and interests of every artisan and have helped to develop Gone Rural into an international brand. Gone Rural now works with over 780 women artisans, who each play an equal part in changing the world through fair trade, and the craft traditions of Swaziland.
Another stunning addition to the shop from Swaziland is this beautiful handblown Ngwenya glass vase. All their products, which include a range of tableware, drinking glasses, vases, jugs and ornamental African animals, are handmade from 100% recycled glass. Most of this is from soft drink bottles, gathered from all over Swaziland. All members of the community are encouraged to collect bottles and school children must participate in roadside clean up campaigns. They are rewarded for their hard work and environmental awareness through the suppling of building materials and sponsorship of their football teams!
Do pop in and have a look – these are just a tiny selection of our beautiful products which make a real difference to artisans all over the world, we would love to share their stories with you!
Have you ever visited to Swaziland? Do get in touch with us if you have, we would be so interested to hear from you.