SPORT, ARTS AND CULTURE
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a young woman from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal embarked on a unique venture that not only transformed her own life but also improved the livelihoods of a group of rural women.
In 2020, Zinhle Msweli (32) made the bold decision to leave her full-time job as a sales assistant to pursue her passion which involved crafting handbags, baskets, and storage bags. These items are made from palm tree leaves and are accentuated with leather straps.
Through this initiative, she not only found her passion but also built a community of fellow weavers, whom she assisted in marketing their handmade products. Msweli, the founder of My Basket Shop, was motivated by her passion for crafting baskets.
Additionally, through this venture, the creative entrepreneur aimed to alleviate the stress experienced by traditional basket and bag weavers of baskets and bags in the uMhlabuyalingana area in KZN.
At the time, these weavers, many of them elderly women, had difficulty conducting their usual business activities due to lockdown restrictions. According to Msweli, uMhlabuyalingana has a large number of women who weave bags and baskets.
The My Basket Shop owner ensures these products are available to a wide customer base by placing them in her stores and at various marketplaces.
Whilst the weavers work from the comfort of their homes, Msweli works with her four young employees, three of whom are female. Two of them work with her at her workshop in Durban where they make leather straps for the bags while the other two work in her small store in Cape Town.
Msweli and her employees frequently go to marketplaces in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg to sell the products. Earlier this year, she won the Community Contributor award from the Global Export Accelerator Programme. This was for her role in supporting the community. “My Basket Shop products are sold via an online store. They are also available at V&A Waterfront in the Water Shed