Artisan, Martha Thobela described Madilika Craft Centre as:
“A platform to realise our dreams.”
The Centre started with a group of 80 women in the rural communities of Justicia, Huntington and Lillydale, in the Bushbuckridge Region of Mpumalanga, South Africa. These communities border the 65,000 hectare SabiSand Private Game reserve, and a number of luxury lodges. The women came together to utilize their passion of producing crafts, which would not only keep them busy but, more importantly, support their livelihoods. This group called their business “Madilika”, which means “crumbling walls” in the local Shangaan language.
They formed a co-operative and, with their diverse skills, ideas and visions of where they wanted to go; it became evident that to succeed, they needed to agree on what their priorities were so that they could focus on taking those initiatives forward. In time, their numbers reduced, leaving a core group of 20 members, who persevered in producing crafts. The group approached Africa Foundation for assistance to build a centre from which they could work and showcase their offerings, realising that this would drastically improve their opportunity for sales.
In 2012, a large sales room with production room attached was constructed by Africa Foundation as well as ablutions and a perimeter fence was developed. With additional investments since then from Africa Foundation, today Madilika Craft Centre is a high end gift shop with beautiful sales displays, predominantly of the signature craft developed through the training provided by Africa Foundation in partnership with Global Gift Innovators. Business and financial literacy training as well as craft development workshops were funded through donors, from 2015 continuing through to 2018, when they culmintated in the registration of Madilika Craft Centre as a business of which the 13 remaining crafters are equal shareholders.
The Madilika Journey:
2004 –Coop named ‘Madilika’ is established, focusing on beading, sewing and candle making.
2012–Coop approach Africa Foundation for assistance in constructing a permanent space where they could produce and sell their crafts. Africa Foundation built the Madilika Craft Centre, next to the Newington Gate entrance to SabiSand Game reserve.
2015–Global Gift Innovators, Africa Foundation and Madilika CC Committee formed a partnership aimed at uplifting Madilika coop through skills development, business training and support.
2016–Annual revenue of R447,000 was achieved, after estimated sales of R40,000 in 2015.
2017–The success story of Madilika Craft Centre was presented at the annual ‘Great Game of Business’ Conference in Dallas, USA.
2018-Africa Foundation and GGI assisted the Madilika Craft members to register Madilika as a business of which they are equal shareholders. The craft centre secured their largest order to date, a wholesale order from a nearby lodge, to the value of R98,000, leading to the women taking home above minimum wage income for two months.