Baobab Batik is a social enterprise based in Swaziland, Southern Africa, founded by Els Hooft in 1991. She wished to follow her passion of creating batiks, as well as offering sustainable work opportunities for women.
Since then Baobab Batik has evolved into a thriving enterprise employing 35 artisans full time. They employ batik makers, a group of 13 women who trace patterns onto plain white fabric and apply melted wax within the outline. They employ four women as dye-artisans in the “Color-house,” where fabric in a variety of colors hangs to dry in the sunshine. These women dye, treat, de-wax and hang fabric. They employ four seamstresses whose machines sew non-stop. Batik fabrics are changed into scarves, cushion covers, tablecloths and eclectic decorative elephants.
Baobab follows the core values of transparency, accountability, and TEAM. Team stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More,” which is their key to success. They also believe every person needs a safe space where they can share stories, laugh together, and care for each other. Baobab's vision is to be a leading example, in Swaziland and beyond, of a social enterprise using thought leadership and innovation to empower women and develop the batik art form.
Tintsaba was created in 1985 by Sheila Freemantle with the purpose of improving the lives of rural women in Swaziland. With an academic background in development, Sheila believed that creating an income generating opportunity for the women would help them become happier, healthier individuals - women who could take charge of their lives. Her small business that started with 12 women has to date worked with and trained more than 890 women. Their products are known for their beauty as well as the story of the women behind each product.
Different groups have different skills, from the basic skills of cleaning sisal, to craft skills of plaiting, to making little baskets, woven baskets, or components. These components can then be transformed into Christmas ornaments, contemporary jewelry, tableware, and other gifts. Tintsaba provides the opportunity and the training for producers – usually semi-literate basket makers - to move into finer, gallery/master weaver products such as technically perfect highly refined woven baskets and fine components for jewelry, some of which are combined with silver in their workshop. These highly skilled artisans become jewelers and silversmiths, and also skills trainers, guaranteeing a virtuous cycle of continuous training and development for all the producers.
Tintsaba cares about supporting women in their individual development. Several social programs have been set up in place for that purpose: Tintsaba started a mobile health clinic with volunteer homeopathic doctors in 2008 and funded transport and medication. All producers and staff are taught Brain Gym which helps concentration, emotional balance, coordination and equalization of both sides of the brain. Tintsaba Reads, a literacy program, has been developed. Each staff member is developed as an individual which assures that they can evolve and have a long time career within Tintsaba: all the current management staff started working in Tintsaba as shop assistants.