CRAFTING OUR FUTURE
ONE BASKET AT A TIME
Who are we?
Chibote Women is a group of craftswomen working together as a small business weaving beautiful baskets out of local grasses and recycled plastic bags. This project is an incredible fusion of artistic creativity, environmental resource management and clean-up, and women's empowerment. We work and live in Mantanyani Village, located in rural Southern Zambia.
What are our goals?
We are working to provide a liveable wage for each woman in the group. We want to increase the standard of living at the house hold level; ensuring that each child goes to school, each family has a balanced and sufficient diet, and individual financial goals of each family are attainable.
We want our impact to be positive, both in the community and to the local environment. As such, we are championing women to start businesses, knowing that these women will have the financial resources and decision making power in the household to invest back into their families and communities; pushing education, handwork, persistence in the face of hardship and sound money management.
We are actively cleaning up the litter in our community, using plastic waste to create beautiful crafts. We are educating the community on the detrimental effects of bush burning. Knowing that our business, and so the livelihoods of the community families, depend on the growth of the local grasses encourages the community to be good stewards of their environmental resources.
How did we start?
We started meeting as a literacy class. This developed to include budgeting and basic business lessons. The Chairwomen of the group knew how to make the baskets, a hobby that the older women in the village do to pass time and make a small bit of side cash. In an attempt to raise some fast capital and gauge interest as a potential business we sold 5 baskets outside the village. We got overwhelmingly positive feedback and decided to pursue the idea further of making and selling baskets. The business itself has grown; as of now all of the women are actively making baskets and developing their own individual craft style. The growth of the business has opened up the opportunity for us to start a savings group and working towards achieving our financial goals as a group and as individuals.
How are the baskets made?
The grasses are harvested in Mantanyani village. Each woman goes into the bush with a sickle, cuts, cleans, dries and bunches the grasses they use. The plastic bags are collected as waste from households, restaurants, shops and general litter around the community. They are washed, bleached, dried, sorted and cut into usable strips. The thread used to sew the baskets is from recycled mealie-meal sacks, collected as waste from households and shops and disassembled thread by thread.
Once the materials are collected, cleaned and sorted the baskets can be started! A small bunch of grass is wrapped in strips of plastic creating a grass and plastic “rope” that is then wound and sewn together with the thread of the mealie-meal sacks and a large needle.
It takes 20+ hours of work to sew one basket. Each basket is completely unique and represents the craft-style of each craftswoman.
Our baskets are woven from locally sourced grasses and repurposed plastic bag litter. Each basket is completely unique and represents the craft style of each craft-woman. Check out our Etsy shop for unique baskets currently on offer.
A delightful mix of colors, shapes and sizes. Tusuwo baskets are perfect for holding your every-day items or to add a splash of color to your home decor!
Large conversation pieces, these baskets are perfect for holding blankets, books or even laundry!
Anything from handheld baskets to coasters. If you have an idea, we will figure out a way to make it a reality!
WHO ARE CHIBOTE WOMEN?
In a culture that values submissive women, Chibote Women are finding their voices by making more for themselves and their families using materials the rest of us would throw away. Scroll down to learn more about who we are and what we do. Follow us on FaceBook to see more about our day-to-day lives.