An introduction to Level Three training

As an introduction to Level Three training, Julia Buss, our Zimele Community craft programme co-ordinator, explained that the women would be having some fun. First they presented the products they had made to join Level Three and Julia took photos of these products. The group members were then asked to do a collage of themselves, as they were that day. This meant that the collage they made should try to depict themselves in the outfits they were wearing. After this collage was completed the groups were asked to do a collage of what they liked most: most people included images of food, family, nice houses etc. They were also asked to do a collage of four things they could make (in craft but not necessarily Zimele craft), that they liked and with these images they needed to include the type of material they would use for the item and the colours they would make it in.

The women had a lot of fun making the collages and were extremely good at depicting themselves and their outfits. There was less creative thinking put into the items that they liked to make, but this will be an area that they revisit as they do their market research into their communities.

Quite a number of the women had made really original and exciting products to present to the course and it is probably these women that will gain the most out of the course and be the most successful.

Some fun products done by the women of Winterton:
BonisiwePhumelele (3)

Crocodiles by Bonisiwe Cebekhulu                            Mice by Phumelele Mlambo

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

The bakers of KwaXimba/Mkhizwane

Bakers newsletter

The first round of baking graduates from the Kwa Ximba district attended and graduated from the Learn to Earn – Bake for Profit training through the Ethembeni HIV/AIDS organisation.

The community of Kwa Ximba/ Mkhizwane is a community that is facing many challenges. This training initiative came about through the Department of Economic Development in an effort to ensure rural women develop the skills and obtain the resources needed to become sustainable income generators. Zimele Community was able to source this very practical, hands-on and sustainable bakers training through the Learn to Earn – Bake for Profit programme, which follows the same principles of Zimele Community, namely giving people a hand up rather than a hand out for capacity building.

The women were required to spend two days a week for 9 weeks travelling to the Ethembeni Place of Hope center in Mpophomeni just outside of Howick to receive this skills training. Each week lessons covered practical baking, business skills and life skills with ‘discipleship’. This united approach has been proven to motivate sustainable baking businesses and the women begin to sell almost immediately, thereby creating income for these unemployed beneficiaries from the start. The table below shows each woman’s journey in the development of a baking business with income and expenses being carefully recorded. This helps the women to see if they are in fact making a profit.
Bakers Table

Training is carried out on a level that mirrors how the women would be operating their business within their own homes. The idea is that they can run a business from their homes using what they have available. Once the business is operational the women can begin to save for a new stove, baking equipment or any other resources that they previously did not have access to.

Another important aspect of the training is that the women contribute a registration fee of R300.00 towards the training. This gives them ownership into their new businesses and as soon as they begin earning they can invest in their training. Every week the women take turns to bake the treats for the training. Ethembeni would buy these treats and at the same time assess the standard and quality of what was being produced. In interviewing the women, the most noticeable mind shift was moving from a creating or manufacturing environment to a life of sales and running their own businesses; something not yet attempted! They could all see the opportunity for growth as shops and supermarkets are an inconvenience for customers in these remote communities. By buying ingredients in bulk, the women are able to save on transport costs and receive cheaper bulk prices. Top student, Ms. Ndaba commented – “I didn’t realise there was pricing to a cake. I didn’t realise there was a way to accurately measure out ingredients. I had made a chocolate cake before but now I can see that I needed to measure and price ingredients. It was also important to learn how to communicate with customers because they are responsible for me being a success or not.”

The women stayed overnight each week at the “Ikhaya Lami Elakho” home stay experience. This is a group of women in the Mphophomeni area that have established businesses in hosting visitors to the area. To have these women attending training to begin baking businesses and see them supporting the women in the accommodation and tourism industry was inspirational. Challenges were faced but the weekly stay helped the tourism women learn how to cater for all clients, including regular weekly guests.

Lindela EthembeniBedroom





Pictured above is Lindela from Ethembeni; Nancy from the Department of Economic Development and Dudu of the “Ikhaya Lami Elakho” initiative.

The last week of training ended with a graduation ceremony and work experience visit.

With flourTraining materials






Many thanks to all parties involved in making this training possible. We look forward to our follow up visits to see the progress these women have made!

Report by: Kim McCall (Enterprise Developer).

Poultry training follow up

Last year some of our farmers received in-house chicken training by the Zimele Community Agriculture team as well as a week-long practical course at KZNPI (KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute). At this course the farmers learnt about producing chickens for business opportunities. After the training the farmers bought both broiler and layer chickens. Bheki Makhathini, the Zimele Community Agriculture facilitator, visited the communities in February to do a follow up on their progress.

He found that the Zimele Community poultry farmers seem to be maintaining the farming process well. Some of the farmers are still battling to find suitable housing for their chickens and some have opted to use a room within their main house. The training seems to have been both successful and useful in that farmers are vaccinating their birds and maintaining biosecurity by placing foot baths and avoiding contact with other birds/animals whilst their broiler chickens are growing. Broilers are being sold at 5/6 weeks at R70.00 per bird. The eggs collected from their layers are being sold at R2.00 an egg. The farmers are proud to say that they are helping their community by producing and selling commodities locally. One can now buy a chicken or egg “next door” instead of having to travel to a shop!

ChicksMam Dlamuka with Eggs

Above L-R: Mrs Ndlovu from Swayimane using one of her rooms in the house to keep her broiler chicks & Mrs Dlamuka from Swayimane with her egg collection.

Mam NdlovuVaccination






Above L-R: Mrs Ndlovu with her broiler chicks (she now has over 400 at each time) and vaccination processses being shown to the farmers.

Report by: Bheki Makhathini (Zimele Community Agriculture facilitator).

The launch of our very own electronic data capture system

Zimele Community staff were introduced to and trained on the new data capture system. The program is user-friendly and is operated on tablet devices. The tablets have been set up with the capture program and staff can input information easily and update the information continuously. GPS logging means that it will be easier for staff to map beneficiaries’ movements and attendance at training sessions. This exciting new data capture system will make the collection of statistics and impact monitoring far more effective and time-efficient for Zimele Community staff.

SHG staffSatellite searching





Above L-R: SHG field trainers receiving training on new electronic data capture system.

Zimele interfaceGPS loggingData on tablet









Above: Tablet set up and searching for satellite signal and learning about the GPS settings.


Christmas donation from Nedbank Foundation

On the 14th December 2015, the Nedbank Foundation offered Zimele Community R10, 000 as part of their outreach project and giving back to the community.  The Nedbank Foundation having previously worked with Zimele saw the need to continue helping Zimele Community empower the communities and help to break the barriers of poverty.  The R10 000 was to be allocated as followed:

  • An amount of R3000.00 was allocated to Nolwazi Mnyandu. She was selected through women working with Zimele (Thandanani Orphans and Vulnerable Children) operating in Swayimane area, KwaZulu-Natal. The orphan is 12 years old and a Grade 7 pupil whose parents both passed on a few years ago.   She stays with her older brothers that are not working.  On the 14 Of December 2015 the OVC committee and Zimele team bought Nolwazi a full set of school uniforms, Christmas clothes and groceries. The excitement and shock on Nolwazi’s face when the parcels were delivered were extremely emotional due to Nolwazi not having anything of her own.
  • An amount of R3000.00 was allocated to a little boy called Lucky Mndawen from Winterton, uThukela District.  Women working with Zimele were tasked to identify one orphaned child whom they would buy groceries for as a Christmas present.  It was all smiles and tears of joy from Lucky’s grandmother on the 15th of December 2015 when the Thandanani women brought Lucky Christmas presents from the money given by Nedbank.  The women bought Lucky a full school uniform including a tracksuit bearing in mind that winter will be coming. They also bought him clothes because Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without new clothes.  They bought lots of groceries as well and topped it up with a toy for Lucky.  Lucky was so stunned with his new toy car and for the first time since the women had arrived, the little boy smiled!
  • R4000.00 was transferred to Msunduzi Hospice Christmas party on the 14th of December 2015.

Thank you Nedbank for your generosity and for the difference and joy that you bring to otherwise hopeless situations! Below are the pictures of Lucky’s big day and an early Christmas surprise.


Above: Nolwazi Mnyandu trying on her new clothes she had been given.

Above: groceries being dropped by the Zimele team for Nolwazi.
Buying uniformsTrying on clothes

LuckyGroceries and parcels

Above: Zimele women buying the uniforms for Lucky, Lucky trying on the clothes and Lucky with his groceries and new toy car!

Report by: Toto Bhungane (Field Trainer).

Crafters take the initiative

Two crafters from Winterton, uThukela District under the Thandanani SHG took the initiative to market their craft products leading up to the festive season.  Nomondi Shabalala and Bonisiwe Cebekhulu both aged 43yrs have been members of Thandanani Self Help Group since 2010. The two ladies are also members of the Zimele Craft Programme.  They are both craft leaders and teach the other crafters to make new products.  On the 5th and 6th of December 2015 the two ladies decided to explore other market opportunities rather than wait for Zimele to provide markets for them.  They registered to sell their products at the Drakensburg Boys Choir Christmas Market. They put R800 together to pay for the stand at the market. Their initiative paid off well, the women managed to sell products worth R3 425!  Nomondi is a single mother of two and she relies on making and selling craft for income. She has since managed to build a house for herself and her children from the money that she makes from her sales.

20151206_073559 (Small)20151206_102132 (Small)

Above: Nomondi & Bonisiwe’s craft stall at the Drakensberg Boys Choir Christmas Market & selling products at the market.

20151206_062342 (Small)

Above: Nomondi’s almost complete 4 roomed house that she built using money that she has earned from making and selling craft.

Report by: Precious Matongo (Field Trainer).

Marketing training for farmers

With so much effort being put into developing the Agriculture Programme the need to develop the market side of the programme has become even more urgent. After last year’s workshop on the basic principles and the women’s ability to source and supply local markets, even in trying dry conditions in several communities, efforts were now focused on a training visit to see the results of fruit tree orders and planting. This took the Swayimane farmers to a small working commercial avocado farm (Hawthorne Hill) owned by a female farmer.

Aim of the training

To develop the ability of Swayimane farmers to reach greater markets in addition to their local community. The intention was for the farmers to begin to understand all the preparation that is needed in farming to make it viable and sustainable for years to come.


To equip farmers with the skills needed to reach a commercial level in fruit tree farming practices.


They learnt how to plan an orchard, how to plant fruit trees and care for them, how to identify different grades of products for different levels of markets, how to prepare and package fruit for each market and lastly how to approach potential markets as a group under the Siyaphumelela Farmers Association.

The eyes of Swayimane farmers were opened to a further avenue of income generation within agriculture. Most recognised the value of having several products to sell to ensure a year round rather than seasonal income. Most of the farmers also have enough space on their property boundaries to plant fruit trees. The value in sourcing good quality trees and planting correctly will ensure these orchards last at least another generation.

Most importantly the ability for the farmers to recognise the different grades of fruit have different markets and different price tags. This holistic view of the entire process I believe has brought about the mind shift in the marketing of agriculture. Through this exposure, the farmers have now committed to developing their lands and market capacity of all goods produced.

Team of farmersPlanting

Training on gradingCharts

Training on productGrading

Above: The Swayimane farmers at the exposure visit.  Planning orchards, identifying grades, preparing & packaging fruits were part of the training.

Fruit tree training for Swayimane farmers

Farmers were very excited about this training because they received different kinds of fruit trees the month before through the Agricultural Programme.  Although most trees had already been planted, knowledge was shared on how to care for the young trees as well as modern planting styles for the future. The day saw the Swayimane farmers planting a new avocado orchard.  Most of the farmers have avocado trees which were planted generations ago by elders in their families.  After seeing how well they grow in Swayimane it seemed the next step for them was to research sustainable small-scale avocado farming.

Farmers were very happy after the training because they now want to plant new avocado trees on their own in the correct way. The training was carried out by a female farmer and her staff.  Seeing an avocado tree planted was a first for many farmers.

Report by Kim McCall (Zimele Enterprise & Marketing team).

Fruit tree planting in action


Zimele Agricultural Programme together with the farmers have started growing fruit trees.  Over 500 fruit trees were distributed across three districts namely UThukela (Ntabamhlophe and Winterton), UMkhanyakude (Mtubatuba) and UMgungundlovu (Swayimane) with the latter having taken over three quarters. Mrs Dlamuka is one of the farmers growing trees in Swayimane and she has over 40 fruit trees in her mini orchard.  For her it is nothing new as she has been growing and harvesting 20 orange trees for over 17 years now.  She is a perfect example and motivation to others that this can be done.  According to her, her oranges are selling like “hot cakes”.  When in season she produces a significant crop of oranges selling to retailers and the local community growing her earning potential.

Trees are a long term investment as it takes on average about four years before they can start bearing fruits.  Agriculture is the key to alleviating food insecurity and poverty in communities.  Well done to the Zimele farmers for this courageous initiative that has the potential to increase incomes and contribute towards nutrition.

Report by: Bheki Makhathini (Agriculture Field Trainer).

Fashion Designers graduate!

Out of the seven women who enrolled in the design and sewing course at the Gateway School of Fashion in April 2015, five women managed to finish the course and get their certificate on fashion design. The women in Swayimane had been doing Basic Business Skills Training through Zimele at the beginning of 2015 and through this outlined their dream of starting a fashion business.  Zimele staff set out to source the relevant technical skills training for them after they saw the ladies’ enthusiasm and passion for this dream. The women managed to juggle other commitments and travelled into Pietermaritzburg each week for the course at reduced transport rates which they themselves managed to negotiate.  The women would pack healthy food and set off as a group making sure they supported one another as they set about achieving their dream! Never had they imagined that they could have the opportunity to study and let alone in a big city.

Through the year the women started to form a strong bond and the idea of starting their own business as a group became a reality. They realised that working together would make them more successful than as individuals.  They would be able to compensate for each other in areas such as sewing, quality control, design and managing the business.   The group decided on the name for the business, “Asiqhakaze Fashion Design”.  “As our name says and means, Asiqhakaze, we want to shine like a flower so that other ladies can see that everything can happen only if you believe in it”. (Nok’phiwo Mnyaka – group member).

Impact stories
Gugu Mhlongo

Gugu Mhlongo is an active SHG and cluster member.  She is a driving force in the crèche and life skills programmes. She became a Zimele craft member as she likes to be involved in Zimele’s programmes and to increase her financial earnings. However she had to drop out of the craft programme as she recognised she was over committed even though it meant more income. This still did not destroy her vision of becoming a fashion designer with her own unique design style.  The design and sewing course has been a dream come true for Gugu even though she faces many challenges from financial security and all her other commitments.

She was eager to share her story and what the course has done for her.  She was proud to tell of the things she learnt at the course from using a sewing machine, detailed cutting work, pattern-making to the making of skirts, trousers, shirts and dresses.

Before she attended the sewing training, Gugu was just doing small sewing tasks like alterations and fixing of garments.  Now she is able to make a dress from scratch.  She says she will now make her own clothes and uniforms for her family as opposed to buying anything in a shop. She says her husband cannot wait to get a new pair of trousers from her!
Ladies with RosettaDSC_0057

Above L-R: Ladies with their graduation certificates & Gugu Mhlongo with her model and teacher at Gateway School of Fashion.

Nok’phiwo Mnyaka

Nok’phiwo Mnyaka is 37 years old and a Zimele SHG member. She had never sewn anything before the course began (even by hand) and always thought she never had any flair or talent to sew.  Studying sewing and design was a big first for Nok’phiwo.

At the graduation fashion show Nok’phiwo received 3rd place.  She was very surprised when she received this award as it was her first time to take on any form of sewing training let alone designing.  She says “I was very surprised and proud of myself by getting this position because there were so many women who got the skill and started sewing training earlier than me and I never thought I had any great skill on sewing”.

Nok’phiwo highlighted a very important part of the training process and journey she went through.  She said the training course was not only about sewing but that the teachers taught them how to take care of themselves from youth up to motherhood, bible studies and some computer training.  The women had to use Word to help create an invitation card.

Nok’phiwo can hardly believe how far she has come.  She says she never dreamed of being able to sew and now she is making dresses, people are buying them and wearing them to special occasions, ceremonies and to town. Well done Nok’phiwo!

Above L – R: Nok’phiwo with one of her teachers & model and Nok’phiwo being congratulated when winning 3rd place in the fashion show.


Above: Ladies with their teachers and second from right Lungile Zondi who received 2nd place at the fashion show.

Report by: Malusi Ziqubu (Business Trainer).


Success of the Thuthukani SHG

Thuthukani SHG is located in the Maswazini area, Winterton, in the Uthukela District. The SHG was launched on the 15th of August 2009.  Before starting the savings Programme the group was already making craft for individual benefit. The group has the same 10 members from the launch of the SHG to date. These women are hardworking, dedicated and self-motivated.

Through the trainings that the Thuthukani group has received from Zimele since the start of their savings meetings, they have started a Home Based Care Project in a bid to help the sick people in their community. Later on the women realised that a lot of children were orphaned due to the HIV virus and that some of the children were affected with the disease and did not have anyone helping them since most of the homes were children headed. The realisation of this social problem led the women to start an OVC Project (Orphaned and Vulnerable Children).  When the OVC Project was started the women would pool their resources together for example, one member would bring mealie meal, another member a tablet of soap, another member a packet of rice to make food parcels for the children. However as they grew in their quest to help these children, they started attending and networking with different stakeholders. Through creating these networks and linkages the women have been able to receive a lot of help for their project. The women are now being asked to identify orphans and needy children in their community each time SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) has things to donate.

OVC ParcelsMolding Bricks Thuthukani SHG

Above left: Thuthukani SHG handing out food parcels to OVC children under the OVC project.

Above right: Thuthukani SHG molding bricks to build a house for one of the orphaned family under their OVC project with the help of their guests from their B&B.

Thuthukani MaSwazi traditional guest house

The women realized that the need is so big and they have little resources.  They came up with an idea of starting a business that would help support their Social Economic Projects. They opened a traditional guest house. One of the group members offered the group some land on her property for the group to build the guest house. Using the resources available to them the women built a Zulu hut (Uguqa) to host their visitors. When the visitors have three meals (breakfast, lunch and supper), the lunch money goes into the OVC project to buy the orphans food on dry periods when no one donates food.   The money is also used for special extra things such as Christmas parties which they throw for the children. Over and above donating food parcels, the women try to build the capacity of the children by having holiday craft lessons.

Statistics of their achievements:

The Thuthukani OVC Project has to date helped:
Total number of children looked after: 124
Total number of children taught craft: 33
Food parcels given through Zimele since they started: 81
Food parcels given to 5 families every month for the next 6 months
Food parcels given donated to the group by SASSA: 8
Total number of people helped to get identity documents: 3 and birth certificates: 7
Total number of people who managed to get grants through the women’s help: 10
Total number of children given new school uniforms by Dept. of Social Development: 12
Total number of children clothes by the Zimele group: 16

Order worth R28 000

The Thuthukani SHG is well known for their successful and inspiring work in their community and beyond. In October 2015 they were approached by another NPO, Philakahle.  Philakahle gave the group a craft order of 800 beaded pens. The pens were decorated with red and white beads along with the design of the HIV emblem. The pens were to be distributed by Philakahle to children to bring awareness during the HIV awareness month. Upon completion of the order the women received a whopping R28, 000!

The Beaded Pens order from Philakahle NGO:
Pens bought 800 @ R1.30 each. Cost R1 040
Beads for decoration R719
Material (cloth) R500
Total amount spent on materials R2 259
Total received upon delivery of order R28 000
Profit made R25 741
Time taken to complete order 2weeks.

Beaded Pens
Above: the beaded pens order worth R 28 000

At the moment the Thuthukani SHG has R46 000 tied up in their fixed account for their Bed & Breakfast. They use the money that the guests pay in cash as their float for the guest house.  The cash that they have on hand for the guesthouse is R6 000.  On the 19th of November 2015, the Zimele Business Training Department brought twelve Zimele women from Mtubatuba to receive training on how to start and run a guest house by the Thuthukani SHG. Zimele wanted the women to get practical training from other women like them who have made it against all odds and really put the saying “train the trainer” into practice.

Report by: Precious Matongo (Field Trainer).

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