Amarasti provides employment opportunities for rural and peri-urban women in Swaziland.
Many of the women working for Amarasti are "gogos" or grannies who, with the Aids crisis, are responsible for providing and assistign in the raising and educating of their orphaned grandchildren.
The women come in to fetch their work on a weekly basis.
The work is completed in their homes. This allows them to conduct their daily chores, such as planting, collecting of wood and water, supervise their children/grandchildren, and earn a living.
Women are trained to bead and embroider a number of items which form the basis of various products ranging from small change purses to more sophisticated fashion bags and cushion covers.
What to buy: Handbags
Bright and colourful.
The home accessories combine traditional skills with high-end design and are hand woven from sustainable natural fibres.
Home-based work has been created for over 700 rural women, allowing them to sustain traditional values and care for their children and dependents.
Gone Rural is a non-profit company; Gone Rural Bomake, that supports the producers, their children and comminities through extensive health and education programmes.
What to buy: Pottery
Swazi Candles is a world famous candle factory and a must see.
Not only is there a stunning variety of thousands of candles on display in the factory but vistors are welcome to watch the candle making process in the adjoining workshops.
The staff are friendly and are eager to show off their skills and happy to answer questions.
The candles are handmade and it is fascinating to watch skillful hands at work. Anything from aardvarks to zebras and plant life as in my first picture.
The workshop is especially loved by children who are welcome to make their own little candle.
The factory is open everyday from 8 am to 5 pm.
What to buy: Candles
Swazi Sense soaps -fragrance oils
What to pay: Inexpensive.
From R15 for a small eggsize candle.
To about R200 for the larger.
A small group of Swazi ladies started making batiks in the garage of the founder Baobab Batik - Els Hooft in 1989. Today, Baobak Batik has 30 members and a wonderful workshop/factory called Under African Skies as well as a small shop at Malandela's and this new shop at Swazi Candles.
The batiks have become well known for their bold colours and animal patterns as well as more contemporary African designs. You can see how batiks are made and have a tour of the workshop.
Closed during weekends and public holidays, this one at Swazi Candles is open 7 days a week.
What to buy: Table Cloths
Casual ladies trousers
Rosecraft is tucked into the Makhungutsha mountain range.
The mountaintop workshop and showroom luxuriate in unique, hand-woven, high quality products.
Watch the traditional spinning, dying and weaving methods that provide work to many rural women.
What to buy: Mohiar runners, cushion covers and small carpets.
What to pay: Quite expensive - trading to the many tourists.
Shopping in Swaziland can be very practical as usually it is even cheaper then South Africa, there are some side roads stands or shops where you can stop for a break and do some shopping. Anything you buy can really help their economy.
Also in the Nature Reserves there are some souvenirs shops where you can buy some items as this one in Malolotja Nature Reserve.
Amongst the mountains that encircle the tiny African Kingdom of Swaziland is one that resembles a basking crocodile. At its summit is the world's most ancient iron ore mine, dating back 43 000 years and at its foot is the remote village - NGWENYA - (Siswati name for "crocodile"). Here a small group of Swazi craftsmen and women - with age old artistry - breath life into enchanting interpretations of the animals and birds of Africa, imbuing each with its own irresistible personality.
What to buy: Glass :-)
Swazi Candles is a candle making store where you can watch candles being made by local craftspeople and buy candles and candle holders. Theres also a really nice cafe attached. The candles come in all shapes and sizes and the staff are really helpful and will wrap everything up well for transportation back home. We enjoyed our first visit so much that we found ourselves back there on another two occasions !
What to buy: Candles and beautifully crafted unusual wrought iron candle holders.
What to pay: Very reasonable by UK standards. Candles cost anything from 50p to £10.
handmade candles - very colorful and creative. Many different designs and sizes to choose from - elephants, giraffes, people, turtles, stars - just about everything! They would make awesome gifts and home furnishings.
What to pay: Anywhere from 20-100+ emalengenis (Swazi currency). They are a little expensive but well worth it.
What to buy: It doesn´t matter what you buy, but when you pay in SA Rand you get change in Elangeni. You can pay with the SA Rand in entire Swaziland, the otherway around is not possible so just make sure you spend all your Elangeni banknotes in Swaziland. The coins of Swaziland are very nice to have as a souvenir.
While in Mbabane, we had a relatively quick look around the local market where various African trinkets and curios are on sale. It was interesting to have a look at the offerings but, we did not buy very many things as I recall (shopping is not one of my strong points!).
What to pay: It varies, bargain with the vendors.
We stumbled on this little batik factory (run by a Dutch woman). Batik is very common in Africa but it did come from Indonesia, although the patterns are much less intricate than in Indonesia. We bought some cushion covers for the new couch. Except we haven't got the new couch yet, because we went to South Africa!
What to buy: Cushion covers, t-shirts, tablecloths, napkins and other souvenirs.
Swazi Candles, situated in the Malkerns Valley in the Kingdom of Swaziland, has been producing fine handmade candles since 1981.