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July 19, 2012


by Erin Wilkinson Hartung

SASIK (Saada Abdullah Suleiman Industry Karibuni)

Karibuni is the fashionable greeting of welcome in Swahili. The women of Sasik welcome all to browse their artistic and colorful handmade creations. Custom orders are quite possible.

Saada and her daughter Ayda run Sasik, one of the more successful women’s co-operatives on Zanzibar. They make pillows, furniture coverings, and wall hangings based on Arabic designs mainly for island hotels. The retail shop and workspace in Stone Town have a constant flow of visitors.

Ayda is always happy to give a tour. You can see us here as she talks about doing non-profit work that focuses on women’s empowerment. The women become entrepreneurs, learn an important skill set and make their own money for the first time.

MOTO (Community Based Craft Production) 

The men and women of MOTO make fashion handbags and household baskets using palm leaf and cotton promoting the Swahili traditional art of plaiting. Something that has been part of the East African coastal village life for many generations. The entire production process from color dying to weaving can be viewed at MOTO’s museum, workshop, and retail location. MOTO staff claim the project employes indirectly up to 600 people from numerous villages around Zanzibar. A selection of stylish products can be seen in island shops. And we are still taking orders until the end of July so consider gift options.

Upendo Means Love (Women’s Sewing Co-operative) 

This unique NGO offers sewing classes, pattern cutting and embroidery workshops, and retail internships to both Christian and Muslim women alike. This gives village woman of Zanzibar an opportunity to become seamstresses or generate additional income for their families. Situated in a multi-story building in Stone Town, Upendo’s production facility and retail shop feature clothes made from natural weaves and local fabrics in brightly colored African designs. Upendo serves local and European consumers and is quite popular with the youth marketplace.

Read more from Life as it Happens

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