Follow up on the NUF fertilizer trial with our farmers








Above L-R: Measuring the space for the blocks & planting the seedlings for trial.








Above L-R: the Zimele Community women involved with the fertilizer trials.


This year has seen some of our farmers from Ntabamhlophe and Swayimane actively involved in a partnership with universities researching and testing Nitrified Urine Fertilizer (NUF). The universities wanted to carry out their urine based fertilizer research on traditional soil and the aim of the project was to identify the effect of this new fertiliser.  The research has consisted of focus groups over eight months discussing whether the communities would in fact use this NUF fertilizer and the Zimele farmers’ feeling about it.  The practical research has involved using one Zimele garden in Swayimane and one in Ntabamhlophe.  The research concept involves growing similar crops using the NUF fertilizer, 3 other types of fertilizer and comparing the results and yields.  Blocks of 4m x 4m were marked out and prepared.  Block one: NUF fertilizer, block two: Urea, block three: Bone Meal and block four: DAP.  The project has involved intensive monitoring to ensure the crops grow well.  When the crops are fully grown at the end of this year the findings will determine if the NUF fertilizer is effective.   It has been a new and challenging project for the women to be a part of and we will look forward to reporting on the final results.

Crafters initiative & success after level 3 training

The pilot project of the level three craft training was introduced this year. The purpose of this specialist training was to extend the Zimele Community crafters to the next level by running a mentorship programme. The crafters had to take the next step from making products (that someone else had designed) to designing their own products and establishing their own production group, including the four P’s of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.

Nomonde Shabalala of the Thandanani craft group in Winterton has been with Zimele since 2010. She is a talented woman and became the craft group leader teaching the other members how to make new products. Nomonde is a 44 year old single mother of 2 who has always shown initiative in the programme. Last year on the 5th and 6th of December Nomonde registered to sell her own products at the Drakensberg Boys Choir Christmas Market. She paid R800.00 for her stand and sold products worth R3, 425.00. She has since managed to build a house for herself and her children from her craft earnings, a wonderful achievement and she doesn’t stop there. This year she once again registered to have her own stand to sell her  products at the Winterton Street Festival Market on the 5th of November. She managed to sell her products and make a profit of R2, 700.00 despite the displeasing weather conditions!


Above L-R: Nomonde at the Winterton Street Festival Market 2016 & her stand at the Drakensberg Boys Choir Market in 2015.


Lindeni Gumbi of the Qhubukela craft group in Swayimane is also one of Zimele Community’s level three crafters and a Gateway School of Fashion graduate. Lindeni put her great sewing skills to the test when Zimele put her in touch with a woman needing custom made cushion covers. Kerry McCulough a new customer who saw the Zimele craft stand at the 2016 House and Garden Show in Pietermaritzburg instantly loved all the bright colours and shwe shwe that our craft programme uses and asked if any of our crafters could help her.

Lindeni had to source the fabric which her customer wanted, make and design a pattern on measurements given to her and cost and price the cushion covers, all of these skills learnt in level three training. Lindeni also designed an extra, binding, to go around the edges of the covers. She professionally negotiated her own price and when it was time to hand over the cushion covers to her customer she brought her materials and sewing machine along with her. This was in case the customer required any changes. Lindeni was asked by her customer to please add tie backs so that the cushions would not slip off the chairs. No trouble to Lindeni, she got to work in the Zimele office with her sewing machine. She didn’t keep her customer waiting too long and it shows that her talent is recognised in the fact that she can use her initiative and keep customers very happy. She also has now made herself some extra income for the holidays.

Above: Lindeni with her customer, Kerry McCulough & her machine which she brought all the way into town for last minute adjustments.

Zimele Community Craft at the Midlands Liberty Mall!


Cluster crèches thank donors for contributions

Several of the crèches governed by the Zimele Community Cluster women were blessed with water tanks and their stands as well as wheelbarrows to help boost food security. The very dry conditions we are facing at the moment is making it difficult for vegetable gardens to survive let alone be established. The tanks have helped tremendously by collecting the little bit of rain we have received and help the community grow fresh vegetables to feed the children. Thank you to alBaraka Bank for the very kind donation of water tanks and wheelbarrows.

Water tanks

Another partnership with Community Chest saw over one hundred mattresses being distributed to ECD centres after the Comrades Marathon. Crèche committees were excited as they could now let the children have the necessary “rest time” and provide a comfortable sleeping “spot with enough room for everyone. Thank you Community Chest!


English learner puts new skill to good use

Mam Khumalo

Mrs Khumalo is a member of the Sphembokuhle SHG group in Ntabamhlophe. She has recently finished the three modules in Speaking and Writing English mentored and trained by Zimele Community’s trainer, Precious Matongo. Mrs. Khumalo’s Self-Help Group run a social project looking after the orphaned and vulnerable children in their community. The children come to her house after school and she is now able to help them with their homework and also mentor important life orientation lessons.

SocioNext Training – Flourishing entrepreneurs

Young people from Mbuba, Umzinyathi district, guided by Zane Dlamini (Zimele Community Field Trainer) attended training organised and facilitated by SocioNext at the Ibandla Labazalwane Church from 29 February to 4 March 2016. During this time, the young entrepreneurs came up with brilliant business ideas and within three days had made their ideas into reality and were “up and running” and selling! Their businesses included two bakeries, a hairdressing salon, and a “shisa nyama” food takeaway. Each group was given a loan of R700.00 as start-up capital. The businesses were able to pay back the loan and still make a profit within a week of setting up and training. Very impressive! What is perhaps most significant is that these young people have seen that by investing energy in their own good ideas they can be successful and generate income without searching for a ‘job’…and have learned practical skills that could become a suitable ‘career’ for them to pursue.
Group pic - Newsletter
Bakery - MatimatoloShisa Nyama Business

Above left: the bakery business from Matimatolo showing their baked goods. They have paid back their loan and have made a profit of R150.00 in two days of selling their goods.
Above right: the “Shisa Nyama” traditional takeaway food business selling lunch to Zane Dlamini (Zimele Community Field Trainer) at R15.00 per take away. After paying their loan back they had made a profit of R140.00 by the end of the training session!

Bakery - MbubaSalon Business






Above left: the bakery business from Mbuba selling their goods. By the end of training they had paid their loan back and made a profit of R380.00.
Above right: the hairdressing salon in action! After the training and paying back their loan, the business has made a profit of R240.00

Report by: Zane Dlamini (Zimele Community Field Trainer).

Level 3 craft training progress report

Level 3 craft training is progressing well. Level 3 requires more personal input and time and the crafters are expected to exercise their own initiative as opposed to Level 2 where everything is more prescriptive. During the month of April all the craft groups did more in-depth work with the 4 Ps of Marketing. They were all asked to make two products (that they could make and sell to their community) and sell them. The groups had three weeks in which to do this. At the end of this time each member was to bring in two of the items they sold and the amount of money they had made.

The two lessons in April covered the following:

Lesson 4 – Product

The crafters looked at aspects of the products they had made and each person had to discuss why they chose certain colours, the design of the product, the size of the product and the comfort of the product. This was done to inform the groups that designing and making products is not just random – you need to carefully consider your market and these aspects when making a craft product.

Lesson 5 – Costing and Pricing of the products

Each member went through the process of how to cost the raw material expenses and then the groups looked at what the items were sold at (ie the Selling Price) and therefore what profit they had made. Costing and pricing at this level did not include labour or indirect costs – these will be covered at a later stage.

The groups really benefitted from this exercise as they were doing costing and pricing on items they had made and they began to understand how to do this. Most groups said they had learned a lot.

Of all the group members the person who made the most money was Khombisile Majola of Sukumani group, who made beaded bracelets and sold products to a total of R1380.00.

Although Zimele has costed and priced each item that the women have made in Level 2 – all of a sudden they were excited about learning costing and pricing of the products they had made, because it was more personal and directly affected them. They began to understand the importance of knowing costs because it showed them what the profit would be from their items. We also discussed with the groups whether their customers were happy with their prices, what their competitors sold the same/similar item at and how they could make their prices more attractive. We did this to see that the women understand that pricing is also about the market demand and not just about what you think you can make in terms of profit. You have to also consider what your customers are willing to pay and what your competition sells for.

It was particularly exciting to see someone like Khombilsile Majola begin to understand Costing and Pricing. Although she sold the most goods she struggled with understanding the maths involved in costing a pricing. However by the end of the lesson she was able to see how to calculate the costs of a single item and see how much profit she was making.

Khombisile & SindisiweKhombisiles bracelets











Above L-R: Sindisiwe Ndimande and Khombisile Majola of the Sukumani craft group in Swayimane & Kombisile’s beaded bracelets.

In the next lesson we will complete the 4 Ps of marketing by doing some in-depth work on Place (to sell) and Promotions (used to sell).

Report by: Julia Buss (Zimele Community Craft Co-ordinator).







Agriculture Programme Updates

Value-added Training in Swayimane

The successful Value-added Training was previously done with Zimele Community farmers in Mtubatuba and this time two members from each cluster in Swayimane attended. Training was conducted by Nomcebo Nyandu from the Department of Agriculture, Cedara Agriculture College and took place on 2nd and 3rd March at the Swayimane Tribal Court. The members were enthusiastic and eager to learn as they were keen to solve their long standing problems of commodities going to waste and losing money in the process.

Training showed the farmers that what they currently grow in their gardens can be converted into different products, not only sold as fresh produce. These different products can be sold easily, consumed differently and can give the produce a longer shelf life. Participants were trained in the following:

Jam and juice-making from pumpkin

Making chutney from beetroot and atchar from cabbages

Making sauces from tomatoes

Drying fruits

Training also included good hygiene practice which was very useful to the farmers. They were shown the importance of boiling the bottles to ensure they are clean before filling, wearing something on their head to cover their hair and removing jewellery whilst working.

With both Mtubatuba and Swayimane farmers having had the opportunity to receive this valuable training the uThukela (Winterton) district communities will be next, as per the training provider’s schedule.

Members of Value added trainingValue added training in progress

Above: participants at the Value-added Training in Swayimane.

Small Dam Construction training

Drought is a major problem that we are faced with at the moment. Water scarcity has reached a point where people are having to buy water just for their essential needs. Fields are dry, growing crops is very difficult and in some places livestock is dying, resulting in farmers losing money.

In light of this a three day training workshop on the construction of small dams was organised at the African Enterprise conference venue in Pietermaritzburg. The training was attended by representatives from different organisations in and around Pietermaritzburg, with delegates from organisations such as Lima, Siyazisiza, Wessa, Mahlathini Organics, Thembalethu Trust, ERS, Siyavuna and ACAT.

The objective of the training was to take the information gathered by the representatives and relay it back to the farmers in the communities. This is to help the farmers conserve the little rain water that we do get. The concept is that rain water is collected in a small plastic lined “dam”. The process involves digging a small (about waist-high) hole which is then lined with plastic to prevent water filtering through the soil and the dam drying out. The plastic lining should overlap and be covered with soil to secure it. Channels are then dug to guide the water to fill up the dam. The hope is that these small dams give the farmer some water for their gardens so that they can continue growing crops for their households and for selling.

Discussions during training considered how safe these small dams would be and the chances of children or livestock falling in and drowning. It was emphasised that the dam shouldn’t be too deep and also constructed in a fenced off area.

The practical part of the training was carried out in one of the Zimele Community gardens in Winterton. This garden was chosen as part of the One Day Wages Programme. Members of the community participated and worked together as a team. During the practical training a pedal pump was introduced to the community. This type of water pump is ideal as it requires neither fuel nor electricity to run and is also user-friendly. By peddling, almost like riding a bicycle, the water is pumped from the stream via the pipe then collected into a container. The pump itself costs approximately R4000 each. The community was offered the pump provided they maintained the work that has been done so far.

Hole being dug for small damPlastic lining to prevent seepage





Above: a hole being dug for a small dam & plastic lining to prevent seepage.

Mumma being shown how to use the pump









Above: muma having fun while learning how to use a pedal pump.

Report by: Bheki Makhathini (Agriculture Field Trainer).

SHG’s receive valuable life skills training

Children’s right’s training

Teachers and assistants from the crèches associated with Zimele Community in Swayimane received training on children’s rights last month. Thirty-four crèche teachers and assistants attended the training from eight different clusters in Swayimane. The women were trained on the importance of child well-being.

The facilitator showed the teachers how to facilitate brain-developing activities and games. The teachers were also shown games to wake the children up in the morning and help them to identify if a child is undergoing any problems at home such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The women were taught not to mix different ages of children, to take special care of disabled children and shown safety measures to protect the children. It was emphasised that a teacher should always be present when looking after the children outside, gates should be locked and they should form bonds with the children without over-spoiling them.

The Children’s Rights Centre aimed at helping the teachers and assistants break the “Lala Vuka Crèche Approach”. This is used in some crèches where the children are told to sleep, wake up, eat, go back to sleep, wake up and then go home. They showed the teachers and assistants a number of role plays, games and activities to stimulate the children and help in their physical, emotional and brain development.

Ladies attending CRTNewspapers

CRT gamesPlaying games CRT








Above: Crèche teachers during Children’s Rights training in Swayimane.

Gender Based Violence training

On 9th March, Gender Based Violence Training was organised and well attended in Ntabamhlophe, Winterton with a turnout of 22 participants. The women learned so much from this training, and some of them were referred to places where they could get further help. The training was very beneficial to participants because it addressed real issues that the women experience in their lives. Some of the issues discussed were sensitive and some of the women were very emotional. Fortunately the trainers were well equipped to handle the issues and to counsel the women through the training.

The following topics were discussed in depth:

  1. Economic Violence
  2. Emotional, Verbal and Psychological Abuse
  3. Physical Abuse
  4. Harassment

Sexual abuse was also discussed and the women were made aware of many things that they did not realise were in fact abuse. The subject of abuse pertaining to children was discussed in length. It was the general feeling that most women thought that girls are the only ones exposed to the risk of rape. This was highly beneficial to the women as we live in a society where rape is on the increase and occurring in both sexes. Precious Matongo (Zimele Community Field Trainer) said it was wonderful to see the women being empowered and made aware of the warning signs even though the signs do not always necessarily mean the child has been sexually molested, but do show that something is wrong. The women were told to keep an eye out if a child shows the following signs:-

  • Clinging, withdrawal, unexplained fear or depression
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbance
  • Deterioration in concentration and school work
  • Behaviour problems for example stealing, lying, running away
  • Soreness, discharge or bleeding in genital regions
  • Soiling or bedwetting in a child already toilet trained
  • Recurring abdominal pain or headaches with no obvious reason
  • Sexual behaviour or sexual knowledge beyond what is normal for the child’s age
  • Sudden use of new terms for private parts
  • Drug abuse
  • Attempted suicide

Precious Matongo (Zimele Community Field Trainer) said that it was the most educational and beneficial training the women have attended. Despite the emotional challenges during the training the women loved the opportunity to learn more.

Ubumbano Cluster representatives during G B V training

Above: Ubumbano Cluster representatives in Winterton attedning Gender Violence Based training.

Report by: Nolungiso Mnduna & Precious Matongo (Zimele Community Field Trainers).

Siyahlomula Crèche begins the building process

Siyahlomula Crèche has been operating under the Sizanani Cluster in Swayimane since 2012. The Siyaphambilli Crèche governing committee put measures into practice to help decide which crèches would be selected for a new building when the opportunity arose. Although there were several candidates, it was decided the next in line would be the Siyahlomula crèche under the Sizanani Cluster. The teachers have attended and graduated training; the governing body has become effective and active in the daily tasks of teaching the children and the crèche has a sound track record!

Months of preparation and securing permission were needed and carried out to begin the initial phase of the project. The Project Build team, Zimele staff, Sizanani Cluster and Siyahlomula Crèche governing body women and builders met to team up for another crèche project.

Final plans and an outline of what is required and expected by all parties were revised. Within the next few weeks the builder and engineers will be arriving on site to begin. The building should be complete towards the end of July 2016.

This project is possible thanks to kind and generous contributions from Zimele funders totalling R160 000 and Project Build which contributed R100 000. An exciting milestone for all involved in early childhood development! Many thanks to all parties involved! We look forward to following the work of this incredible group of Zimele Community women.

Creche 1Creche 2


Above: Signing paperwork agreeing to the role of the women during the building. The children and teachers are very excited at all the activity.

Creche 3Creche 4






Above left: Nolungiso Mnduna the Zimele Community field trainer signs on behalf of Zimele.  Above right: everyone staying out of the hot sun for the meeting.

Creche 6Creche 5






Above: the committee stood where the actual building would be so as to get a good idea on how everything would look once finished.

Report by: Kim McCall (Zimele Community Enterprise Developer).

Breaking News

Zimele Community mentioned in the Meander Chronicle

Get Involved

Craft Catalogue

Meet our Visitors

South African-based donors will score points in terms of socio-economic development and skills and enterprise development for BEE ratings.

Sign up for Website Mailing List
* = required field