Local Heroes: Hands of change

Inspirational stories about remarkable South Africans!

Crochet has been revived globally and Mpumalanga community-based project Ukuthunga Handmade is weaving knots of love into the fabric of people’s lives, locally and abroad. Born of the humble offer to teach people to crochet, Ukuthunga Handmade exudes virtue with beautiful artisanal products such as plant baskets, storage solutions, rugs and shopping bags to doorstops created by the hands of these women. Baby range items include blankets, African animals and teddies.

The original group of five has bloomed in the last two years to around 100 women from the Msholozi, Backdoor, Sabie and Mphakeni communities. Their recent recognition at the Mpumalanga Arts & Culture Awards enabled the upfront purchase of three months' stock. The model for splitting earnings drives initiative and creativity while balancing equitable distribution in that everyone feels a part: Innovating a one-off gem means earning individually from its sale; making a standard piece sees the profit evenly split. There are no margins elsewhere within the business.

Former teacher, Leah Mavimbela, has returned to her calling as chief of crochet training. She also leads innovation – some of her pioneering work includes the giraffe, warthog, hippo, lion and llama soft toys. “I feel that I belong. We are a community with dignity and hope that puts food on the table. The work we do has far surpassed expectation. Our vision is to generate a R1 000 supplement income for each person. The golden number to achieve financial impetus would be securing a single order of 1 000 pieces,” says Leah.

Born of the humble offer to teach people to crochet, Ukuthunga Handmade exudes virtue with beautiful artisanal products such as plant baskets, storage solutions, rugs and shopping bags to doorstops created by the hands of these women.

Looking for great corporate and wedding guest gifts? Order via the Facebook page @Ukuthunga handmade, and find Ukuthunga Handmade handiwork in local boutiques and retailers.