Events and News

Celenkosi Malinga – CLEF’s first radiographer!

CLEF graduate, Celenkosi, tells of his achievements and his struggles as a newly qualified radiographer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celenkosi Malinga, CLEF scholarship recipient from Mduku community, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa captured our hearts and minds a couple of years ago with his extraordinary spirit of determination and kindness. Then, he was a radiography student at University of Johannesburg, and raising funds in his spare time to support other struggling students in his residence.

Celenkosi has now graduated from university and achieved his dream of working as a radiographer.

We caught up with Cele after he finished work at Queen Nandi Regional Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, where he is completing his one-year community placement. This hospital is dedicated exclusively to the care of obstetrical, gynecological, and neonatal patients; however, it is classified at as ‘Level 1’ – meaning that it lacks the kind of equipment, infrastructure, and resources that larger hospitals have. As a radiographer, Cele performs x-rays and scans on patients, but as there is no radiologist in the hospital, the scans must then be sent elsewhere for examination.

While completing his degree last year, Cele was given the opportunity to name hospitals and provinces that would be his preference for the community placement in 2021. Cele named the hospitals that were closest to his home, and to his Gogo (grandmother), and he was thrilled to be placed at Queen Nandi Regional Hospital in Empangeni- only an hour and half’s drive from Gogo’s house, where he grew up with his siblings. Cele said he also loves being so close to the beach, and that his residence at the hospital is, ‘just like a hotel’, with his very own T.V and couch, and all the necessary amenities for a young man starting out his professional working life. As someone who has known hardships all of his life, he is not taking any of these comforts for granted.

But this is not to say that things have been easy for Cele’s first year out of university. With a serious skills and resources shortage in South Africa for medical professionals, Cele has been faced with the biggest challenge of his life yet – the job of a front-line worker in the middle of a raging global pandemic. Complications from COVID often arise in the lungs and chest of a patient, and so as a radiographer, Cele is using his skills to x-ray the chest of up to 5 patients with COVID per day. For those of us not working in the medical field, it can be shocking to hear about the daily experiences of those who do. Even Cele himself says that he is still not completely used to the seriousness and gravity of the situation in which he finds himself…

‘It actually strikes on you when they report that a certain colleague has passed on (from COVID). You think, I was with her in ICU. You think, maybe I’ll be next…’

The stark reality is that Cele is facing, and will continue to face, the death of colleagues and patients over the next several months due to COVID.

‘If we die, who is going to help these patients?’

With what can only be described as true bravery, Cele is determined to keep on working so that he can be there for those who need it the most. Not only is Cele experiencing those first few months working in the ‘real’ world, and all the scary and exciting steps that come along with that, but he is also trying to navigate his way through what is said by WHO to be the most severe global health emergency in history.

The same spirit that saw Cele bake and sell muffins while studying to help other students living in his university residency, is what gives him the courage to keep on working and fighting in this dangerous and frightening new world.

‘You find strength to wake up every day and go there again.’

Cele achieved impressively high marks during his University studies, he was the first in his family to go to university, and he was the first in his community to study radiography – blazing the path for many more who have now followed in his footsteps. He has been a source of immense inspiration and admiration for young people in his home community, in his university residence, and now in his current community. He says when young people around him see him in his scrubs, they too can start to think of what possibilities might be out there for them. And Cele is not finished yet, the drive and determination that got him this far continues to spur him on. His goal is to return to post-graduate study in the future, to become a doctor in radiology, progressing from generating the x-rays and scans, to analyzing them and determining the diagnoses and treatment plans of patients. treatment plans of patients.

‘When you can imagine it, you can own it and you can have it.’

May nothing ever hold this young man back.

A Timely Intervention for Ultimate Independence: The story of crafters in a time of COVID

Article by Tanya van der Ploeg, Africa Foundation (SA)

Part of Africa Foundation’s rural businesses and entrepreneurship initiative is the support of craft markets situated in the communities in which we work. These markets create and sell high quality souvenirs including crafts and jewelry to tourists visiting the conservation areas around which the markets are positioned. Africa Foundation provides support to these rural businesses, in partnership with Global Gift Innovators (GGI), by facilitating infrastructure development, helping crafters to develop their product quality and range, and supporting financial and business literacy, to ultimately attract a variety of customers.  

 While these training programs have been an undeniable success, improving the quality of products and the business acumen of the crafters, the markets remained dependent on the tourism industry to sell their goods. COVID-19 travel restrictions and the subsequent closure of the tourist sector have therefore denied the craft markets a customer base, leaving them unable to generate any income.

Africa Foundation’s goal has always been to empower businesses to function independently, ultimately encouraging sustainable community development. COVID-19 however, brought unprecedented challenges never before seen by rural businesses reliant on tourism. In this context it was imperative for Africa Foundation and Global Gift Innovators to provide additional support to prevent irreversible to the craft markets.  

At the beginning of May, a re-pivoting strategy was implemented. The goal was to increase the markets that the crafters could sell to, effectively replacing lost trade. A two-pronged approach was developed:

  1. Assistance was given to three craft markets – collectively called ‘Lala Africa’– to open an online shop that would enable them to continue to sell products despite the travel restrictions. 
  2. An intensive training plan was developed in order to diversify the product ranges that the crafters made, to produce goods valuable to the local, non-tourist market. The most obvious new product line was cloth facemasks, tapping into a newly created market and an urgent global need for these items. Training on sewing machines was provided at Ku-Humelela craft market, as soon as lockdown restrictions allowed. Imparting the skills and knowledge to begin to make cloth facemasks, and fabric shopper bags. 

What followed was a drastic turn-around. In the month of May, Ku-Humelela sold over R40,000 worth of masks, and orders for June continue to come in fast. With no intervention, this craft market would have been severely behind their annual sales target, jeopardizing the crafters jobs, families, and livelihoods, and forcing them to face the potential shutdown of business entirely. However with a timely intervention by Africa Foundation and Global Gift Innovators, and a clever re-thinking of products to make and sell, Ku-Humelala has been able to position themselves ahead of their sales target and are more successful than ever – without a single tourist visiting their market. 

 The fact that this craft market can stay in business, and thrive, not only saves the jobs of the 15 women who work here, but it also directly impacts the 65 dependents of these women. A well-timed ‘helping hand’ and a strategy pivot not only saved a small rural business,  but in the words of the business development manager for GGI who has been an integral part of the success of this initiative; it has ‘impacted the hope, purpose, sense of belonging and the dignity imparted to the members’. And that is something to truly celebrate. 

Donor funding has now enabled the purchase of additional sewing machines and related tools to commence training at Bohlabela Craft Market, also in Mpumalanga, this month, extending to Mbhedula Craft Market in KwaZulu Natal in July. As local and international businesses begin to reopen and return to their new normal in coming months, and schools reopen, the three craft markets – employing 49 rural women – will be equipped and ready to supply quality branded or patterned cloth facemasks, keeping theirs and others businesses alive and well. 

To learn more, email

If you would like to donate to support the craft markets, click here and reference “craft markets” in the donation notes.


How is COVID-19 affecting CLEF students?

Africa Foundation established the Community Leaders Education Fund (CLEF) scholarship program in 1996, and is supporting 100 students in 2020.  The aim of the CLEF program is to assist young people to acquire education and skills that would not otherwise be available to them, with the ultimate goal of reducing unemployment levels, increasing household incomes, and uplifting communities.   

As universities around the world close due to lockdowns, family homes have become the new university campuses, backyards the new quads, and bedrooms the new lecture halls. While students in countries like the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are finding that studying from home comes with many struggles and obstacles, we wanted to find out how students from rural African villages are facing this pandemic – our CLEF students.  We spoke to four CLEF students from three different countries to find out how their studies, and life in general, has been impacted by COVID-19 Here is what we learned from them:

 Family is what matters. 

Kwanele is an 18-year-old South African from KZN studying Aerodynamics at WITS university. He normally lives on campus in Johannesburg, but due to COVID, is now back at home with his mother and three brothers. When we asked Kwanele how the closing of the university has affected his life, the main concern for him was in fact, the health and safety of his family – and especially his mother who is a nurse at the local clinic. He said he would be ‘too worried’ about his mother if he was still living far from home on campus, and is much happier to be able to help support and take care of her as she works in a high-risk environment. As for his studies, he will have to write his exams online and is particularly missing the face to face content with other students and the lecturers. While living at home means he has less access to his classmates, and resources such as internet, libraries or even quiet study spaces, Kwanele was sure that home was where he was meant – and wanted – to be right now. In fact, all students we spoke to expressed in some way the important role their family has played during the pandemic. They said they were enjoying the extra time with their families and that this was the main, if only, positive take-away from the whole experience.

 Internet access is a privilege not to be taken for granted. 

Unsurprisingly, access to data and internet, as well as the related infrastructure, was the main stumbling block cited by all of the  students we interviewed.  It is the main barrier to them achieving productive work. Nhlayiso, from Mpumalanga, South Africa, is 17 and in his first year of Law at the University of Limpopo. He has had limited access to data, no Wi-Fi, and no laptop to work on. He said, with some pride at the achievement, how he had typed up his essays on his phone.  Many CLEF students do not have access to electricity in their home and must walk to charge phones and laptops at neighboring houses or electricity points- something made difficult in the context of social distancing. The consequence is that it is almost impossible for our students to effectively study to the level that they strive for and that meets the demands of  their universities. The impact is an overwhelming feeling of frustration and stress about the progress of their degrees.

 Economically speaking, the seas are rough. 

For all of us, there is no doubt that one of the most serious impacts of this pandemic and subsequent levels of lockdown is the economic one – on us as families and on the countries in which we live. Many of the students in the CLEF program are from families who solely rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Now, with markets, shops and other forms of trade all but vanishing and the price of goods dropping, these families are finding themselves with little to no income. Tezra, a 22-year-old from Tanzania is in her third year studying Water Management and Safety at the University of Dar Es Salaam.  Tezra’s father is a subsistence farmer. Tezra told us that he planted a lot of crops and usually sells all his produce, however since COVID, the price has dropped, and he cannot sell products over the border due to lockdown. Tezra says that her family has experienced ‘a great loss’, and this is a huge worry on her shoulders on top of thoughts about how her graduation and ability to join the working world is also being put on hold.

 Their futures are uncertain. 

When we asked these students how much communication they were receiving from their universities, the answers were disappointing. Apart from one South African university which was putting up online material and supplying underprivileged students with free data, support from other universities has varied significantly leaving some students feeling stranded.  Rather than a criticism of universities, this appears to be the result of a general insecurity and uncertainty that has pervaded all facets of life – educational institutions notwithstanding. John, 33, is one semester away from graduating from Kenya University as a Special School Teacher majoring in physical education and history. The closure of his university and the subsequent radio-silence has had a huge impact on John; it will inevitably stretch out the date of his graduation and the acquisition of a job by at least a year. He says, ‘I am just there hanging somewhere. I’m just in a cocoon and I can’t think outside’.

They will not give up. 

While there have been many barriers to productivity in the last few weeks for these students, one thing we can be sure of is that they do not lack motivation or determination. The goals and dreams spoken about by our interviewees was nothing short of inspirational. Kwanele wants to improve aeroplane and rocket fuel efficiency to help the environment and progress human scientific exploration. He will be an innovator. Tezra hopes to improve water management, security, and quality in her rural community and beyond. It is important to her that her community has safe water, and she wants to help make that happen. She will be a life-saver. Nhlayiso, on his path to being a lawyer, has been fascinated by the legal system since he was a boy – constantly reading law books in his spare time. He will fight for justice. John wants to provide better access to education for children living with disabilities in his community. He said that it was watching his younger brother struggle with his disability that motivated him to pursue this career. He will be a life-changer. In fact, these are the people who will change the world.

But this is not exactly surprising.

Since its inception, the CLEF bursary has been incredibly impactful and has helped nurture students into adults who can be looked up to by their communities and indeed, whoever they meet. The program first and foremost aims to empower individuals. As you can imagine, this results in students who are passionate and dedicated to their chosen area of study. Secondly, the program does not fully fund a student’s university education. The CLEF bursary is a partial bursary and students must fundraise or obtain other bursaries to fulfill the full fee of their studies. This is hugely empowering as it places responsibility on the student and the community to support and prioritize university education, creating students who have a sense of ownership over their degree. The benefits of this are clearly visible now when all of our students are adapting to their new challenges and finding solutions that work for them. Thirdly, the CLEF program, its program manager Nonhlahla, and the entire CLEF community compromising of past and present students, creates a strong network where students can access emotional, mental and practical support from their peers and the adults involved in running the CLEF  program. This third point has been one of the more crucial aspects of our CLEF students managing lockdown, as each of them said the support they receive from the CLEF network has helped them tremendously – not just to study but also to stay positive.

Article by Tanya van der Ploeg, Africa Foundation (SA) Donor Relations Officer

Increasing community resilience in the face of COVID-19

To read our most recent update on our COVID-19 response, click here 

Read below to learn about the projects related to COVID-19 that we are currently supporting.

I want to include the credit card processing fee (3%) in my total to further Africa Foundation (USA)'s mission.

Alternatively, you can mail a check to: PO Box 233, Friday Harbor, WA 98250


Worldwide, news reports talk to the overwhelming strain that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting on healthcare systems. Even the most well-equipped facilities in developed countries are buckling under the pressure.  Africa Foundation works with 5 communities in rural Kenya, where many communities do not even have a direct water supply. Most clinics in these areas do not have beds or capacity to isolate infected patients, and they have a shortage of equipment and medical supplies. The situation is compounded by the fact that these clinics are serving communities in which poverty, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and diarrheal diseases are rife. In the communities supported by Africa Foundation, whole families live in small one or two room homes in households with scarce water supplies and no running water. With people advised to observe physical distancing and good hygiene habits amidst the pandemic, health experts have constantly reminded that the simple practice of handwashing with soap and clean water is also one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

In addition to helping prevent the spread of COVID, regular handwashing also:

  • reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%
  • reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
  • reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%
  • reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%

(Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020)


Africa Foundation is aiming to raise funds to provide the following communities in Kenya with 50 liter wash basins to be placed at homesteads to promote handwashing:

Emurutoto Community = 145 Basins

Saparingo Community = 70 Basins

Enkereri Community = 80 Basins

Iltolish Community = 88 Basins

Maasai villages = 20 Basins

Total = 403 basins

Stickers outlining the steps to effective hand washing will also be placed on the side of each basin to ensure proper use and maximize the health benefits of this practice.


To buy 403 handwashing basins for 5 communities in Kenya will cost:

797,800 KES/ $7,598

RoE 105 KES: 1 USD


NAMIBIA – Maltahöhe Feeding Program

The Maltahöhe community is situated in the southern part of Namibia, about 300 kilometers south of Windhoek. The community has about 6 000 people, housed in two suburbs; the Andreville location, and Blikkiesdorp informal settlement, which are not serviced by any municipality. The town has been in decline for a number of decades, with extremely limited infrastructure and neither sewerage nor electricity supply. There are just two schools in the town, Daweb Secondary School and its feeder primary school. For a number of years, &BEYOND Sossusvlei Desert Lodge has made weekly visits to Maltahöhe and recognized malnutrition as a major issue in the community. Despite limited resources and infrastructure, the lodge staff established a feeding program, reaching around 500 hungry children living there. Meals are prepared and served in the kitchen and dining hall built by Africa Foundation in 2018.  To date, this feeding program organized by the lodge has fed around 500 hungry children daily.


After the dramatic effects of the pandemic however, there has been a significant increase in the number of children attending in the hopes of receiving a daily hot meal, as lockdown and travel restrictions have had a huge impact on the livelihoods of those living in rural Namibia. Africa Foundation is raising funds to support this incredible initiative to reach those most in need of assistance as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.


Africa Foundation aims to raise ZAR 10,000/ USD 690 per month for 6 months, or until guests return to lodges – as guest donations at andBeyond Sossusvlei Lodge have been the main fundraising platform for this initiative in the past.

I want to include the credit card processing fee (3%) in my total to further Africa Foundation (USA)'s mission.

Alternatively, you can mail a check to: PO Box 233, Friday Harbor, WA 98250

To read our most recent update on our COVID-19 response, click here

Make an online donation using Africa Foundation’s secure payment system.

Africa Foundation (USA) is a US public charity (EIN: 88-0461880), contributions to which may be tax deductible for US federal income tax purposes under Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code.

Africa Foundation (USA) is an independent non-profit organization.  As such, all expenditures made by the organization are subject to the approval by the Board of Trustees, taking the donor’s preferences into account.

Click here to see our gift policy.

Please contact us with any questions about making donations or purchases.

Robin James Award


To mark the 25th year of Africa Foundation, we have launched the Africa Foundation Robin James Award.

About the Award

The award in the name of Robin James, honours one of Africa Foundations trustees, and chair of Africa Foundation (UK), who passed away in 2016.

Robin James’ childhood interest in wildlife grew into an adult passion for conservation and the upliftment of rural communities. At Africa Foundation the legacy of Robin James began in 1992, when he provided the initial funding and vision for the organisation’s work. Thereafter Robin remained an active ambassador for Africa Foundation; his influence and inspiration, invaluable to the organisation’s continued growth. His daily dedication was unwavering and his years of service to the cause is unparalleled by any other.

The Africa Foundation Robin James Award aims to recognise people who show the same commitment to empowering people through access to education, health, economic opportunities and conservation. The award celebrates those who embody the same foresight, wisdom and sustained commitment that enabled Robin James to have an extraordinary impact on the lives of others.

More about Robin James

Robin James was born in 1945, and  spent his childhood growing up in Natal.  His  father, Ted James, was a Director of the Natal Parks Board, and through this involvement Robin developed his love for the outdoors and his fascination with birds. After finishing school at Michaelhouse, Robin spent a year in the Navy before attending the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, followed by a long and successful career in financial services in South Africa,  London and latterly the Isle of Man. Robin died suddenly on 17 May 2016.

The African bush was Robin’s sanctuary from the world, and it would be here where you would find him most relaxed and at peace. Robin photographed every aspect of bush life, and this love of the African bush set him on a philanthropic path 25 years ago.

In 1992,  he was a part of the visionary team of investors with Mark and Tara Getty that founded Africa Foundation after the creation of the Phinda Private Game Reserve.   Back then, Robin had provided the organisation’s initial seed funding and he remained instrumental in charting its course to present day, as a Trustee of the Africa Foundation in South Africa and Chairman of the Africa Foundation UK.

Below are just a few examples of the wonderful photographs Robin took:

Robin James Bee EaterRobin James Wildebeest
Robin James LeopardRobin James Yellow Bird

Selection Criteria for the Award

It is in Robin James’ name that Africa Foundation has chosen to recognise people who:

  1. Have had a significant and sustained positive impact on communities in which Africa Foundation is active.
  2. Have demonstrated the key aspects of the Africa Foundation methodology to empower communities by: doing things with people and; always building on the capacity and local wisdom of the community, to ensure sustainable solutions.
  3. Embody the key qualities of Robin James – humble; wise; persistent; positive; gentle; measured, with a long term outlook.

The Judges

The judging panel have been selected for their experience of Africa Foundation in action, their knowledge of the communities in which Africa Foundation is active, their valued professional insights and varied perspectives from regional and international positions

For more information about the judges click here.

The Award

  1. A sculpture, especially created by famous South African sculptor Dylan Lewis
  2. A cash prize
  3. A cash prize to be donated to an Africa Foundation community project of the winner’s choice.

Meet the 2017 Award Winner:

Mrs. Nomusa Haslot Zikhali, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Africa Foundation Robin James Award winner

Mrs. Zikhali first became known to Africa Foundation when she applied for support in 1999. For 2 years she had been running a school, teaching 60 children under the shade of trees in Mnqobokazi. Her commitment to and love of children, combined with sustained determination and strong leadership, led to Nkomo School today being a full service primary school for over 1000 pupils, of which she is the principal.

Her community focus meant that she was also integral to the development of Khulani Special School in Mduku. Mrs Zikhali raised funds for its construction and played a key role in the consultative processes with community and the Department of Education. Her involvement has ensured the long term success of the school which serves 300 pupils living with disabilities.

Mrs Zikhali went on to secure funding to build a centre for orphaned and vulnerable children, based at Nkomo School, which provides after-school care for children attending Nkomo and other neighbouring schools.

Recognising the importance of conservation and the role of education in protecting the environment and wildlife, Mrs Zikhali is a leader in the Eco School programme, and Nkomo serves as a training school in the area.

As an ambassador for the Africa Foundation methodology for community empowerment and sustainable change, Mrs Zikhali mentors school principals in the area, illustrating how to take ownership of their own sustainable growth.

Mrs Zikhali is recognised by the judges as a humble leader, visionary teacher and a devoted community member.


Call to Action: Clef Program 2017

The Africa Foundation Community Leaders Education Fund Scholarship Program celebrates 20 years of existence this year!  In September 2016, donors, friends, stakeholders, Ambassadors of the Program and graduates from the 2014 and 2015 academic years gathered to celebrate the annual Community Leaders Education Excellence Awards. These awards recognize the hard work and performance of students and celebrate their success as they embark on their future careers.

Twenty graduates, who obtained varied qualifications ranging from Bachelors of Science in Geology and Hydrology to National Diplomas in Environmental Science and many others, proudly shared their experiences during the evening. They each had touching and heart-warming experiences which they shared, and they described how the scholarship from Africa Foundation has helped to mold their lives and their families’ lives.

The South African Higher Education system has been undergoing tremendous scrutiny and turmoil with the #FeesMustFall campaign – a call from students for government to provide free higher education.  While the merits of the demands are strongly debated, the reality is that tuition fees for higher education are costly. Most of the students in the communities in which Africa Foundation works are poverty-stricken and can least of all afford to pay for their higher education. Yet, their passion and commitment for learning remains.

Through Africa Foundation scholarships, these young minds and talents are given the opportunity to explore their potential.  In the 20 years of the program, 438 students have graduated from various institutions of higher education in South Africa.  Our work is not yet done – as we look towards the new academic year, we hope to offer more scholarships to students.  Our aim for 2017 is to assist 100 students; however, in order to achieve this goal, we need to raise $277,000.

The Africa Foundation Community Leaders Education Fund Scholarship Program provides a perfect opportunity for you to become involved in helping to make a positive impact on the lives of the youth of Africa. We hope you will join us.

Catching up with Noah Ramos


(In his own words)

How did you get involved in the projects?

When I was seven years old I took my first trip to East Africa. This powerful experience changed my perception of myself and the world. When I saw children playing soccer with an old deflated ball, I realized that many things I took for granted were not available to children my own age. This realization motivated me to do something to help these children.

Once I returned to the United States, I launched a book and ball drive at my school with plans to bring the donations back to the kids in Africa. My classmates and teachers donated their lightly used books and soccer balls. Over the next ten years, I have collected over 1000 books, over 40 soccer balls, and six soccer nets. After seeing the joy on the children’s faces I knew I had to continue my efforts. At this moment it occurred to me how good it felt to give.

Since then, I have taken four more trips to East Africa bringing study guides, school supplies, and story books in Swahili, installed bathrooms and this year solar panels to power 8 classrooms and 11 offices. With the help of my parents, I have formed a non-profit organization called, Noah’s Books and Balls for Africa (www.noahsbooksandballsforafrica). Our non-profit has expanded beyond bringing books and balls, we are also collecting financial donations that will be used to improve the Misigyo Primary School buildings.

The experience of bringing needed supplies to these remote village schools has taught me that it is better to give than receive. I have also learned to appreciate and value everything I have including my ability to help others. The impact of this experience has changed my view of the world because I realized that I can make a difference.

How has the community work and the Africa Foundation impacted you?

The biggest impact my project has had on me is that it has instilled the lesson in me that it is better to give than to receive. There is such a great need in Africa, and through projects like mine, a difference is being made. Now when I go back and visit the school, I feel as though it’s a home away from home due to being greeted by familiar faces once again. Its indescribably fulfilling to hear the children read speeches to me in English, as I can really see the positive effect my project is having. Also, at Misigyo, their soccer team has gone to compete in the city and the school itself has gotten the award for the most improved school in the district. Identifying the needs of the school is key so progress can be made. A huge thanks to the Africa Foundation for identifying the needs, giving me updates, and ultimately making sure the new improvements at the school are effectively installed. All this progress and incredible new opportunities are in large part thanks to the change Noah’s Books and Balls is having on the Misigyo School.

The Success of Creativity – Madilika Craft Center


It all started with a group of 80 women in the rural communities of Justicia, Huntington and Lillydale, who came together to utilize their passion of producing crafts, which would not only keep them busy but, more importantly, support their livelihoods.  This group called their business “Madilika,” which means “crumbling walls” in the local Shangaan language.

They formed a co-operative and, with their diverse skills, ideas and visions of where they wanted to go, it became evident that to succeed, they needed to agree on what their priorities were so that they could focus on taking those initiatives forward. In time, their numbers reduced, leaving a core group of 20 members, who persevered in producing crafts. They soon realized that there was interest in beading and producing raw materials to make jewelry. With this drive, the group approached Africa Foundation for assistance to build a center from which they could work and showcase their offerings.  In 2012, a proper center, ablutions and a perimeter fence were developed.

Today, the Madilika Craft Center is a landmark in the Justicia community, boasting a fresh new look after a recent revamp of the interior to enhance the display areas. This must-see attraction is ideally positioned at the entrance of the Sabi Sand Reserve, which is home to over 35 privately-owned game reserves and lodges. The convenience of its location means that visitors to these reserves are encouraged to stop-off for a browse and buy magnificent pieces of locally handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs.

A project of collaboration

Behind the success that Madilika enjoys today is a journey that has seen the collaboration of Madilika Craft Center, Africa Foundation and Global Gift Innovators, who have teamed up to assist in making Madilika Craft Center a sustainable and profitable business enterprise.  For the past year, this alliance has driven the process of developing principles, structures and systems that can be replicated at other similar centers.  The fruits of the commitment to develop passionate and creative crafters are paying off.  For the first time since Madilika’s existence, the center is attracting the clientele it sought to reach – guests from the neighboring reserves – and its revenues are generating profits for the individual members of the group.  With the business and financial skills training that has taken place, members are now able to purchase their own materials to replace inventory that has been sold. Training and coaching on producing larger numbers of products, including sought-after jewelry, and stock controls, pricing, and accounting principles are all significant for sustainability of this business model and center.

The cumulative successes of Madilika Craft Center include setting targets to increase the number of visitors, and to date, the Center has seen its revenue grow to over $19,000 since January 2016 with over 1,000 visitors, allowing the members to set aside 5% of their sales into a reserve account.  Transparent accounting and record-keeping systems ensure that members, for the first time, have access to accounting information with each member understanding the inflow and outflow of money.

These are the early days of a successful journey, with the center aiming to generate revenues of at least $69,000 in two years’ time.  Madilika Craft Center is an example of the success that can be attributed to collaboration by seeking synergies with like-minded groups and individuals.  The entrepreneurial expertise of Global Gift Innovators, the developmental expertise of Africa Foundation and the willingness and passion of the Madilika Craft Center members are the result of trust, endurance and dedication of these parties to drive success.