Woza Moya (Come Spirit of Change in IsiZulu language) is the economic empowerment project of Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Woza Moya’s mission is to unearth creativity that creates economic empowerment through traditional quality local crafts made by people in need. Started in 2002 with five beaders making AIDS ribbons at a local church, the project now supports more than 350 crafters, most of whom have 5-10 dependents. Crafters were referred to Woza Moya by other HACT departments, including the respite unit, counselling department and home based care project. Once the men and women are enrolled with Woza Moya they are then trained in a craft, most commonly beadwork or sewing. The crafters are mostly women and are almost all first time money earners, having set up bank accounts for the first time in order to receive they payments from Woza Moya.
Every week the crafters come to HACT to sell their crafts to Woza Moya, everything from beadwork, wirework, woodwork and even crochet. By selling Woza Moya their crafts the crafters become self-empowered and self-employed. We have found that being financially secure gives our crafters hope and the luxury of looking to the future; because of this they take ownership of their disease and fight to stay healthy.
Woza Moya are dedicated to both their crafters and to their customers, and as such are careful to only take in work of a high quality and to give on-going training to the crafters so the standard is met and kept and they can be proud of the work they bring in. Woza Moya encourages the crafters to come up with new, creative ideas and, as much as possible, for the crafters to set their own prices. Woza Moya has a very special relationship with each crafter and takes care of each individual. The sale from their crafts is the only source of income for close to 95% of our 350 crafters. Every item bought from us has already helped to empower, uplift and inspire and to give hope to a family in need.
Woza Moya is an amazing example of an innovative project. It has taken a traditional African craft – beading – and modernized it and made it relevant and appealing to customers both local and international. One of the biggest successes of Woza Moya has been its innovative product creation – from the famous Little Traveller beaded dolls, to the World’s First Fully Beaded Suit, to the Dreams for Africa Chair that sold at a record breaking R750,000 to a private Cape Town buyer, the Dreams for Africa coffee table book, to the yarn bombed tree at the front of HACT’s property, to the beautiful beaded necklaces in a huge array of colours and design, to gift cards, to the upcycling project that produces beautiful products out of waste – everything that Woza Moya does is innovative. It has popularized African beadwork again and made it appeal not just to African markets but to all South Africans and internationally in countries including Australia, Germany, Holland and the USA.
Woza Moya has received the following public acclaim for their innovative approach to economic empowerment:
- The Dreams for Africa Chair was awarded the World’s Most Beautiful Object at the 2010 Design Indaba in Cape Town. This project created income for over 100 women who worked together to bead the chair, which had been pulled out of a dumpster. Beaded wings in the shape of Africa were added to the chair and it became a chair of dreams – people could sit in the chair and have a dream about their future or the future of their community/country/the world. The chair travelled to Germany, Holland and America and all around South Africa, with many famous and regular people sitting in it and enjoying a dream. A coffee table book featuring beautiful images taken of people in the chair was produced and sold in the Woza Moya shops. The chair was sold in 2014 for a whopping R850,000 – money will be used for the building of a new craft shop on the HACT premises in 2017
- Woza Moya was a finalist for the 2016 KZN Exporter of the Year Awards, where we had been nominated as a finalist. The awards are a partnership between Transnet Port Terminals [TPT] and the Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry [DCCI] that serve to celebrate those local businesses that are contributing positively towards the growth and development of our province’s economy
- Woza Moya was nominated at the 2016 BEFA Awards (Business Excellence Forum & Awards) in the “Best Community Impact” category for its exceptional work in empowering and uplifting thousands of crafters and artists from across the Valley of 1000 Hills area over the past 15 years.