Rural entrepreneurial spirit
On a site chosen by Chief Gumede, for its accessibility and the opportunity to attract passing trade, Africa Foundation facilitated the construction of Mhbedula Craft Market, completed in September 2004.
The market aimed to stimulate the economy in Mduku by providing the guests of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, and those on the road to Sodwana Bay and Mozambique, with the opportunity to buy authentic locally produced African Crafts in Mduku. For women in many rural communities, selling their handmade mementos is their only source of income. The establishment of this venue enables the Mduku women to sell their products locally, and remove the need for them to travel the long distance to Durban, where they would then sleep on the streets.
A cooperative of local women with a range of skills and varying products was formed, and the ladies were provided with the business training essentials to ensure the sustainability of the project. One member of the cooperative, Jabulisiwe Ndlovu, explained the impact: “Now we are a family. The market has given me the freedom to stay home on some days to care for my children, while the other crafters sell my goods.”
The market sells a range of quality woven, wood and bead products, provides tourists with wonderful holiday keepsakes and souvenirs, uplifts the local economy and empowers women to make positive choices for the benefit of their families.