August 05, 2021
At Khutsala Artisans, we pride ourselves on making beautiful handmade jewelry and home decor that people can enjoy all of the time. Whether it's a beaded animal, Christmas ornament, or a wooden charcuterie board that's perfect for entertaining, each of our products is a special piece that our Swazi artisans put a lot of time into crafting.
But the desire to create beautiful items didn't just spring up. It also didn't bubble to the surface because we had a unique skill set that allowed us to create timeless pieces. In fact, the heart behind Khutsala Artisans is deeply mission-driven.
Our goal is to help bring HOPE to Eswatini, Africa, a beautiful country that's experiencing complex challenges. While home to fun safari tours, great people, and picturesque landscapes, Eswatini is battling a growing hunger issue, an orphan crisis, poverty, and a poor education system.
Most Swazis in Eswatini live in discouraging, destitute conditions with little hope that the future will get better. However, Khutsala Artisans exists to help change that mindset and give Swazis the tools and opportunities they need to fulfill their dreams and live a great life.
Why Khutsala Artisans exists
At Khutsala Artisans, our focus is two-fold. First, we want to provide jobs to Swazi adults because employment breeds empowerment. Research suggests that Eswatini is a lower-middle-income country. With over 1.1 million citizens, 58.9 percent of the rural population lives on less than US$1.90 per day, which is below the national poverty line. Additionally, 20 percent of Swazis are considered extremely poor.
Because so many people in Eswatini don't have the financial resources to live comfortably, it's extremely difficult for them to afford their children's schooling and give them a better life. In worse-case scenarios, a lack of funds even convinces some parents to abandon their kids.
Our team at Khutsala Artisans never wants to see people struggling to provide for their families or pondering whether they should leave their children behind, which is why we're so dedicated to increasing employment in Eswatini. Currently, more than 100 Swazis work at Khutsala Artisans. And as our team continues to grow, people in Eswatini will have the opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives, support their kids, and keep their family unit intact.
However, this focus on employment is just the first step that Khutsala Artisans is taking to instill HOPE. We also want to care for the many Swazi children who are lonely and suffering.
In Eswatini, there are over 200,000 orphans, owing to the country's high poverty rate and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. To curb this epidemic, Heart for Africa—a faith-based humanitarian organization—has created multiple children's homes for orphaned and vulnerable kids. But instead of funding the homes solely through donor support, Heart for Africa started Khutsala Artisans to help generate the money it needs to care for its children.
Since its inception, Khutsala Artisans has given 100% of its profits to Heart for Africa. This money helps buy food, clothes, diapers, medical care, books, toys, and everything else that Swazi children need to become the future leads of tomorrow.
How one Facebook post changed everything
Although our team and profits at Khutsala Artisans have grown, it's not an understatement to say that we have humble beginnings. In fact, we got started because of a simple idea, one product sample, and a well-received Facebook post.
One day in 2013, our founder, Janine Maxwell, had an idea to make a Christmas tree ornament, a fun but simple handmade decoration for visitors to buy when they came to Heart for Africa. At the time, most visitors loved going to the craft markets in town to purchase Swazi-inspired souvenirs for their loved ones, so Janine thought these same visitors would love to buy a Christmas ornament to support Heart for Africa.
After purchasing a small angel for inspiration, Janine and a few helping hands created one ornament. From there, she wrote a Facebook post to see if anyone would be interested in buying five Christmas angel ornaments for $50, and the response she received was so positive that it resulted in orders for more than 600 ornaments. As time went on, she had more than 1,000 orders to fulfill.
Of course, creating this many decorations and having them in people's hands before Christmas required some strategic thinking. Within a short amount of time, Janine and her husband Ian had to create a supply chain, find vendors, and train people to help make the ornaments. But overall, it was a huge success that birthed Khutsala Artisans and inspired a bigger dream.
The fruit of faithfulness
In April 2014, our founding team at Khutsala Artisans built on the success of the Christmas tree ornament by creating another one, which was just as well-received as the first one. In 2018, progress continued when we shipped a 20-foot container of Christmas ornaments, beaded animals, and decorations to a warehouse in the U.S. we had just rented.
Because of the hard work and dedication that our team put into growing Khutsala Artisans, we currently produce various types of Christmas ornaments, and we can make every type of animal into 3D home decor or a keychain. It doesn't matter if it's a lion, dinosaur, flamingo, or unicorn. We have Swazi artisans who know how to do it all.
Additionally, our team makes beaded ballerinas, cheerleaders, and specially designed eggs for the Egg Farmers of Canada, an organization that has always supported our efforts. We also craft customized pieces for sports teams, school teams, and other groups that want to raise money by selling our products. Our Swazi artisans even build Nativity Sets that come complete with a wooden manger and a 12-piece Noah Ark Set.
The growth that we've accomplished in such a short period of time is nothing short of a miracle. We've created so many timeless products because of the thousands of customers who've supported us and our mission to reduce poverty and care for orphaned and vulnerable children. The organizations, people, groups, and vendors that have come alongside us have played a significant role in helping us instill HOPE in Eswatini.
That's not to say there haven't been ups and downs on our journey. Despite so much success, we have experienced many growing pains. However, being faithful and continuing to provide beautiful pieces for a beautiful purpose has produced much fruit. Our efforts have allowed us to employ wonderful Swazis artisans and give opportunities to so many loving children, and having the chance to do that is a gift that we cherish on a daily basis.
Come along for the ride
If you want to help Khutsala Artisans bring HOPE to Eswatini, we welcome you to walk with us on this journey. Whether you want to buy jewelry or become an ambassador, there are various ways that you can get involved, so we encourage you to help us make a difference in the lives of Swazis. With your assistance, we can get one step closer to increasing employment in Eswatini and caring for the future leaders of the country.
Shop with purpose today! www.khutsala.com
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