Economic Empowerment through Arts and Crafts
Since 2007, Eco Africa Social Ventures has been empowering hundreds of previously unemployed and unskilled women with income-generating crafting skills. Our work, however, goes beyond skills training – we not only empower communities to form self-sustaining crafting enterprises, but we also lay the groundwork to improve their overall quality of life.
The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is 90%. Many people are struggling to find employment and most have fled to neighboring countries to find work .
Job creation is the key to end the crushing poverty that has hit thousands of mothers and families. Eco Africa offers tools and training as well as crafting work for hundreds of women and has been improving their quality of life, dignity, pride and the self esteem that comes with it.
In Zimbabwe where employment is scarce, working with Eco Africa has been the first-ever employment experience for many of the crafting artisans. Paper making and paper crafting is where their training starts but if they show an aptitude can climb the ladder and become table leaders, managers and supervisors.
Later if they wish, or if they move away, they can move on to other employment with good references and skills that will last them a lifetime.
Education was once free in Zimbabwe but now government schools are expensive. Without money to pay for their children to go to school the children languish at home, uneducated and often unsupervised.
Eco Africa focuses on the future by raising funds for scholarships for the children of our artisans.
The artisans are challenged with inflation and the struggle to keep up with the rising prices of food. Since its beginnings Eco Africa has provided nourishing lunches for the women on campus. As the artisan base continues to grow so does the need to continue the lunch program.
Food packages too are an important part of Eco Africa’s programs to help families remain healthy and well nourished with a month’s worth of food and essentials for each artisan to take home.
Water purification chemicals are expensive and municipalities have run out of money. The sewage systems are unmaintained and overflow into the streets and the ground water, mixing with the drinking water. Cholera outbreaks killed many people. Families are still at risk for developing water-born diseases.
Eco-Africa will drill a fresh water well for use by the artisans and their families as well as the nearby local communities.
The AIDS epidemic is a widespread problem in Zimbabwe and the women artisans are at constant risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Sadly many people in the region still view AIDS as taboo and therefore do not discuss it openly.
Without the proper education, women will continue to be effected. Eco Africa regularly invites health care professionals and councilors to talk to the women about risk factors and prevention.