We visited Monkeybiz in Capetown, a non-profit craft organization that puts all of their profits back into the communities they work with via payment for bead art and community services. They’ve created employment for 450+ women beaders in the Capetown townships of Mandela Park, Khayelitsha and Phillipi. Basically the way they work is that first they supply glass beads to women in the townships of Cape Town. Then once a week, women assemble and are paid for each piece they produce, assuming it passes muster. Since the women work from home, they are able to look after their families. The women learn beading from their mothers and other women in their community.
Each piece is truly a work of art. It was quite a feeling, standing in a room filled with Monkeybiz pieces, surrounded by the explosion of color and spirit. We were hoping to visit some of the bead workers in the townships on the outskirts of Capetown, but our trip was canceled due to the xenophobic attacks that were taking place in the townships.
Monkeybiz also runs a wellness clinic, which provides skills training and HIV/AIDS support for low income HIV positive women. To learn more about Monkeybiz and the awesome work they are doing, check out their website.