Women of the The Madwa Foundation weave beautiful, handcrafted pieces.
Women of the The Madwa Foundation weave beautiful, handcrafted pieces.
Image: Honest Work

Generosity is always in fashion, but we say up the ante by choosing gifts that keep on giving this festive season. Here is a list of ways to spoil loved ones while supporting worthy causes too.

SUPPORT: MOMS IN NEED

1. Hatch

A non-profit started by Jacqui Barhouch and Christy Smith that supports new moms in underserved communities with vital-care packages, Hatch relies on donations (monetary and otherwise) to ensure that the recipients start their journey into motherhood equipped with the essentials. Included in the hamper is often a handmade quilt or blanket, and always a soft toy. Of the 15 products Hatch gives as part of the bag, the soft toy is one of the most expensive so, rather than buying cheap imports, the founders sought another way to include this much-needed item and support local.

Hatch.
Hatch.
Image: Supplied
Hatch.
Hatch.
Image: Supplied

Each charming Hilda x Hatch giraffe toy (made using donated fabrics and ribbon by Hilda Riva, a seamstress to whom the team outsources this project, providing her with a steady income) ensures there’s something locally and lovingly made in the Hatch bags. You can purchase a Hilda x Hatch giraffe for a new mom from S&H Kids (and in so doing cover the cost of a toy for another child), or simply sponsor a bag as a festive-season gift.

SUPPORT: KIDS TO READ

2. Book Dash

Book Dash began in 2014 as a project among friends with the goal of producing high-quality, affordable African storybooks to children who need them. An unaffordable luxury for many (yet an indispensable tool for learning), “leisure” books are absent in 58% of households in South Africa, further exaggerating existing inequalities. (Children growing up with many books get the equivalent of three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, according to a study.)

Book Dash events see volunteer teams consisting of a writer, editor, illustrator, and designer creating books in a day! These are then printed and distributed. To date, 140 original children’s books have been created and translated into the official South African languages. By purchasing a Book Dash storybook this Christmas, you’re also helping other children learn, as proceeds from sales are used to subsidise the printing and distribution of books to children who would not otherwise have any of their own. 

SUPPORT: COVID-, BLM- & GBV-FOCUSED CAUSES

3. Koos Groenewald

Koos Groenewald.
Koos Groenewald.
Image: Supplied

Local artist and creative powerhouse Koos Groenewald put his skills to paper for charity during lockdown with his #CoronoCommissions series. By doing portrait drawings from supplied snapshots (deliverable on proof of the recipient’s donation to @coronacaresa), he uses his talent to support the local charities and institutions helping the most vulnerable South Africans. This has since mushroomed into a larger project, with other organisations now benefitting from 30% of the proceeds (Bo-Kaap Covid response — the artist is a resident — and mentoraboychild.org, as well as Black-lives-matter and gender-based-violence causes). Groenewald also encourages other artists to take up the cause. Gift a loved one a one-of-a-kind original custom portrait for Christmas while doing your bit for others. 

SUPPORT: ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS

4. Johannesburg Wildlife Vet

The first of its kind, the Johannesburg Wildlife Vet exclusively cares for indigenous wildlife, free of charge, with the biggest differentiating factor that it treats medium and small wildlife. This is exceptional given that many NPOs fund conservation efforts that focus on large wildlife. The hospital treats, rehabilitates, and releases reptiles, birds, rodents, and other small mammals back into the wild. Why not make a donation (which goes towards food, medical expenses, and day-to-day running costs) in someone’s name in lieu of a physical gift this year? 

5. Arise Coffee/Greenpop

Arise Coffee was created as a way for people to enjoy great coffee while contributing to a crucial environmental cause.

Arise Coffee.
Arise Coffee.
Image: Supplied

For every 3kgs of the high-quality organic Arise coffee bought, Greenpop plants a tree, allowing you to get your fix and lower your carbon footprint in one go. You can buy this ethically produced (and beautifully packaged) coffee at Faithful to Nature, Tribe Coffee Roastery, Organic Living, Low Impact Living, Shop Zero, and soon also Takealot and Wellness Warehouse. 

SUPPORT: CREATIVE PROGRAMMES

6. Dlala Nje

Dlala Nje’s mission is to change and challenge perceptions and educate locals and visitors to Johannesburg via tours of parts of the city often avoided or deemed “dangerous”. These tours aim to debunk stereotypes by showing people the daily, normal life of people living and working in these areas. The proceeds go back to the community via care and youth development centres. And then, their Dlala Nje’s store sells fantastic fashion and decorative items sourced from designers and artisans in the area — think a glass blower in Hillbrow, a designer crafting accessories out of PPC cement bags, etc. It supports these local designers, with a percentage of these proceeds also going back to the centres. Gift a tour, goods from the store or — preferably — both! 

7. Zambezi Joy Society

Prior to Covid, 74% of the income made at Zambia’s award-winning Royal Chundu Lodge went back to the local communities. Tragically, lockdown saw this crucial support falling away.

Born out of guests’ interest in the bright and vibrant Chitenge items seen at Royal Chundu, and the clear demand for these products, an online portal was created. The Zambezi Joy Society, a project that has grown from the Royal Chundu online store, aims to connect people around the world with these locally made items, as well as provide a lifeline to local makers and craftspeople.

Zambezi Joy Society.
Zambezi Joy Society.
Image: Supplied
Zambezi Joy Society.
Zambezi Joy Society.
Image: Supplied

With products ranging from Chitenge table linens and cushion covers to hand-carved doorbells and napkin rings or leather sandals, the online shop is a celebration of handmade and local. All the profit goes back to the makers and whatever needs they have (fuel for the village-garden pumps, an industrial sewing machine, a smartphone to receive orders on, etc). 

8. Handmade Karoo Handgemaak

Handmade Karoo Handgemaak is a self-sustaining community project that has just marked its 10th birthday. It helps the local women of Prince Albert in the Karoo earn an income from their handcraft skills. What started with two women making simple crochet hearts to sew onto tea towels grew into a community of around 20 women of all skill levels creating beautiful knitted, crocheted, and sewn items from high-quality materials — ranging from character toys to nursery and home items.

Handmade Karoo Handgemaak.
Handmade Karoo Handgemaak.
Image: Supplied

Paid for every sale, the makers’ names are on each item, so you know exactly who made yours. By purchasing one of these charming, one-of-a-kind pieces, you help keep a breadwinner in business. 

9. Madwa

Madwa’s beautifully crafted woven pieces from Eswatini promote empowerment through employment. The rural community has a rich weaving legacy, something The Madwa Foundation is upholding by showcasing the weavers’ skill and upholding this tradition. All of the weavers are women. Madwa also provides training, infrastructure, and assistance with product design to allow the team members to achieve their own financial independence through their intricate creations, and to ensure that their crafts are given access to both local and international markets. The Madwa Foundation is supported financially through the sales of its products. 

10. Mother City Jungle

During lockdown, Mother City Jungle started the Power Basket Initiative to empower people who had lost their jobs because of Covid-19. Founder Ashleigh Liprini began by helping a group of people living in Maitland, training them to make floor and hanging baskets. In turn, these artisans trained more people. Liprini supplied materials, dropping them off at the residents’ houses, collecting the finished articles a few days later, and selling them from the online store.

Mother City Jungle.
Mother City Jungle.
Image: Supplied

All profits from these baskets go to the makers. It’s an ideal gift for a plant-lover this festive season. They’re available online and at various retailers around Cape Town. 

11. Barbara’s Scrunchies

During lockdown, Barbara Lephuthing started making and selling scrunchies to keep herself and her two children afloat. The business has grown to the point that she has now trained five other women who also needed to earn an income. A stylish, easy stocking filler for the women in your life, these beautifully made and very on-trend accessories (she’s doing headbands too) are helping at least six women support themselves and their children. You can shop directly off her Instagram page.

12. Julie Baby Punch Club

Illustrator Andel Olivier employed Nomvula “Julie Baby” Mxubane as her domestic worker and nanny, and during lockdown, when Olivier gave Mxubane some craft supplies, she realised just how talented she is. Especially with a punch-needle kit. This prompted Olivier to form a collective with some of local domestic workers (weavers, knitters, crocheters and the like) and set up a platform on Instagram from which to sell the beautiful pieces.

Julie Baby Punch Club.
Julie Baby Punch Club.
Image: Supplied

Olivier initially did the majority of the designing, but the team members are increasingly expressing their own creativity and skill to execute mad cool pieces. Their work earned Julie Baby Punch Club grand prize in an Acer competition, which gave the women business training and a cash prize to equip themselves with laptops to help them run the operation. These masterful pieces are fool-proof gifts, outright artworks, and will help (the now six) local craftswomen continue to supplement their income. 

SUPPORT: A SOCIALLY MINDED STARTUP

13. Ge:)Skenk

Vicki Scheffel and Flora Maloka’s Ge:)Skenk is a gifting service that supplies corporates and individuals with beautifully curated and themed gift hampers (for him, her, baby, to say congratulations, etc.) while simultaneously supporting purpose-driven, largely artisanal and craft brands, small local businesses and social enterprises. Its whole ethos is built around ethical business and is driven by a desire to channel some of the approximately R9-billion that’s spent annually on corporate gifting back into creative social enterprises. Forget humdrum goods for clients — this is a seamless way to gift consciously on a large or small scale with the sourcing done for you! 

SUPPORT: THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY

14. Mutanu and Art

Mutanu and Art was started during lockdown by Korcelia Saygbay after she became unemployed. She picked up a childhood crocheting hobby as an outlet to celebrate queerness — especially for Africans and women — and creates proudly queer garments that expresses that part of her identity. From making art (punch-needle embroidery and rug tufting) to décor items (plant baskets, coasters, placemats), and clothes (jerseys and cardigans) in pride colours, the pieces are an opportunity for her to offer her community designs.

Korcelia Saygbay, founder of Mutanu and Art.
Korcelia Saygbay, founder of Mutanu and Art.
Image: Yethu Mtshali

Cognisant that not everyone has had the support she’s had during her journey, she’s donating 10% of the proceeds made from her cardigans (priced at R2,500) and jerseys to a LGBTQIA+ organisation of the buyer’s choosing. Buy a rainbow in fashion form for someone (gay or straight) in your life, and contribute to ensuring someone else has a supportive community around them. 

 From the December edition of Wanted, 2020.

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