In 2010, Shared Interest Foundation was awarded a 3.5 year grant
from Comic Relief to work with socially minded handcraft producers
in Swaziland, to support them to grow into sustainable businesses
that could employ more people in their communities and introduce
them to the full benefits of fair trade. The need for the project
was clear with 69% of Swaziland's one million people living below
the poverty line.
Over the last three years we have worked in partnership with
SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade) to support a total of 146 businesses.
The project worked on a three tier approach and supported
businesses at different stages of development from small
enterprises (street sellers) to established businesses who were
The project was a huge success and created a total of 267 new
jobs, raised the incomes of 5328 individual producers by
over 40% and had 22 new businesses registered, transforming
informal street selling artisans into fully operational businesses.
Significantly the majority of the producers are women (94%) in a
country where women are legally considered minors and are
economically under-represented. It also successfully implemented an
HIV in the workplace policy in 17 of the 20 more developed
businesses in the programme, a significant step in a country where
39% of the population are living with HIV-AIDS, the highest adult
prevalence rate in the world.
One of the biggest achievements of the project has been the
successful creation of a fair trade support network in Swaziland,
through SWIFT, who have developed into an effective, reputable
business support organisation selling a quality training
"What SWIFT has done to us money
cannot buy. SWIFT has broken barriers, barriers between whites and
blacks, barriers between millionaires and the poor, barriers to
markets for entrepreneurs".
Raymond Mhishi - Artisan
Read about the impact of the project on Baobab Batik here.