The British Museum in London opens a major exhibition tomorrow (27 October) entitled South Africa: The Art of a Nation. In this exhibition, a diverse range of art from across the ages tells a story that stretches back 100,000 years. Claire Shepherd, a South African living in Bassenthwaite (Cumbria), has secured an order for her firm, Zuza Trading, of more than 9,000 units from the British Museum to stock the exhibition gift shop.
Zuza Trading is the UK importer of hand crafted home décor and Christmas decorations sourced from income generation projects in South Africa. Claire’s business aims to bring about fundamental changes in the status of developing world producers through fair trade retailing and aims to do this by supporting crafters employed by community projects in the KwazuluNatal region of South Africa.
Individuals are selected to work on various projects with the purpose of providing a skill that will generate an income for people from various communities, either with high unemployment, single mothers or people living with HIV and AIDS from established support groups in South Africa.
Making a “tremendous” difference
“The most incredible thing about the order from the British Museum is the impact it has had on the lives of the crafters who make the products in South Africa,” said Claire Shepherd. Claire works with the income generation projects to develop new products that will suit the UK market.
One such project based Avonmore Spar in Durban makes beautiful beaded animals and employs a team of crafters: Cosmo, Joe, Lexus, Nomore and Tafadza. Gail Cuttler (Logistics Manager) explained the impact of the British Museum order:
“Their business has made tremendous growth and has also enabled them to generate new ideas with their products. Due to the increase of orders, the production is improving and their basic business skills are also improving. With the increase of sales, they have now employed more staff and that has enable them to put food on their tables. This has, in turn, given them an opportunity to save and go home to Zimbabwe to see their families.
“Zuza Trading has contributed enormously to the extra ordinary team of workers and made a huge impact on their lives individually and as a team. Some of the team members have been able to pay for their children’s education and the additional income has mean that they have always been able to put food on the table for their families. Some of the crafters have chosen to improve their accommodation and others have been able to arrange transport for their children to get to and back from school.”