Swaziland: Swazi-Chic

Date: August 29, 2018
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Philile Tsabedze is a young lady from Ngwenya in the Hhohho region. She is single and has two kids which she raises on her own because the father disappeared, ran away from the responsibility of raising the children. She is unemployed but has finished her high school education. She started the paper recycling business in 2011 when she was introduced by AMICAALL Ngwenya focal person to the volunteer who came from London and was attached there. The project started way back in 2011 with the assistance of the Peace Corps volunteer (Gena Pearson). Pearson taught them Paper recycle which she had learnt from some of colleagues.  The project aim was to help start an income generating project among the volunteers in our social center and the youth unemployment and drug abuse in and outside town. They were funded by the Peace Corps office to gather around the small things (raw material) they needed for the project. As time goes they encountered challenges of finding market for their products since our Peace Corps friend left the country in 2012.During the time she was around she was helping in marketing their products in their gatherings. they developed conflicts in the group and Philile ended up being the only one left having interest to continue with the beading.

Philile then joined Swaziland Council of Arts and Culture to have access in the country’s flea markets or fairs. From there she moved around almost half of the country having flea markets/ exhibitions. Tsabedze was also identified by SEDCO as an original artist that does not purchase from others for resales, so they started inviting her when they had exhibitions. Since she started attending the fairs she managed to sell more jewelries and provide more for her family from the past five years. I foresee myself opening an art gallery and hiring people especially young people. By so doing I would have taught more people on going green. Philile heard about gender Links through the AMICAAL office base at Ngwenya town council since she was volunteering there. She tried her luck in joining the 2017 summit held at Polokwane but she could not finish her application in time and ended up being left out. In 2018 she managed to join and showcase her talent in the summit and became the runner up in the climate change category.

Philile manufacture paper recycled jewellery, using thrash from stationery shops, old pamphlets, magazines and old calendars. Using the papers, she makes designs of her choice which can be earrings, bracelets, necklaces to name a few.  Her project is a good practice because it helps keep her town clean from used papers as she has become the “trash bin for the unwanted paperwork’s”. On another note this practice helps in meeting Swaziland Environmental Authority(SEA) services halfway through going green”. The paper recycling is an Eco friendly and does not cause air pollution. Philile’s innovative project highly aims at saving the environment for a sustainable fashion, eye catching jewellery that surprises and inspire buyers and on lookers. Some of the profits made from selling the bead work helps in the social center in providing some of the necessities e.g. meals, floor polish, play equipment, for the children.

The key objective of Tsabedze’s project is to provide skills and development training in the form of bead jewelry making for women helpers in social centers referred to as “volunteers”. It aims at creating an income generating products for the women in the community. Unfortunately, it was adopted by a few. It was also meant to empower youth through skills acquisition and manpower development by teaching them bead making skills that will enable them be self-reliant. It was also to reduce unemployment, Drug abuse, decrease crime rate and increase productivity especially among the youth. Paper recycling project was to give out the know-how in making jewelry by using paper, to reuse/recycle items that may have been sent to recycle centers, garbage dump or landfills. To research on art jewelry field and create an art jewelry line to keep handcraft effective in our nearby school healthy clubs (Ngwenya Central Primary) items.

After she conducted a marketing research, outcome was people sounded willing to support/ buy our products. The jewelry she makes can be worn with traditional and western attires. She also makes ornaments of which she uses plastics and the recycled beads. She does online marketing advertising on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other marketing sites like Khangisa.com. Philile also exhibits here wares on all family gatherings.  She got her biggest order through online advertising in 2017, one was from London and second one from South Africa. By consulting the client from London, she got a chance to join Cabanga Beads which is a gallery that buys artworks from Africa for resales. The orders from South Africa come now and again.

Tsabedze has partnered with Cabanga Beads whose founder is Samantha Webster who was born in Africa but now resides in London, where she is running an Art Gallery. Selling in the gallery helps a lot. She is currently planning to do a coalition with her neibouring school (Ngwenya Central Primary) practical Arts teacher. She wants to teach the youth on how to make the jewelry which can help some of them to start their own arts businesses. Also planning to start a charcoal project with the same kids that will help in their soup kitchen since Ngwenya area has scarcity of firewood.

Since Philile was trained for the project, her live was changed drastically.  She said “I am now more independent and I do not depend on anyone for cash instead I make my own money. I am now more confident in myself and I am able to advise other young girls to start their own businesses in order to alleviate poverty and remove the dependency syndrome. I am now able to provide for my siblings and the entire family. I believe that when young girls see me prosper in the business sector they will be inspired to join too and since there is less opportunities for youngsters nowadays, starting your own business is the best option or else one can fall into the trap of drug abuse or being victimized by the other gender”.

Benjamin Msane was the person who introduced us to the volunteer. He works as a Social Worker for Ngwenya town council.I run a paper recycling workshop (Swazi Chic) at home in the peri-urban town of Ngwenya in the Hhohho region.