Ensuring a Future
Tribal Textiles, Zambia
|Drying hand painted textiles.|
Based in Mfuwe, close to the edge of South Luangwa National Park, Tribal Textiles has been in operation since 1991. The company was started by Gillie Lightfoot who with a small group of local artists translated her dream of traditional and contemporary African art and design for the home into reality.
The company produces 100% cotton hand painted textiles, soft furnishings and accessories for the home, supplying the local safari and retail markets and over the years has grown substantially developing markets in Europe, the USA and Japan.
|The painting workshop at Tribal Textiles.|
Tribal Textiles are proud of their collaboration with the local community. The artistic talents of employees have helped to make the company a global success. Training is provided to employees so that skills can be developed. Education and health support is also provided for employees and their families and a regular wage which keeps the extended family in basic food and support. The company is recognised by fair trade buyers worldwide.
Tribal Textiles employ 85 staff from the surrounding community. Traditionally, employment has been generated from subsistence agriculture and more recently through seasonal tourism generated by development of safari and game lodges in and surrounding the South Luangwa National Park.
To experience Tribal Textiles positive impact on an employees life, why not read the fascinating stories about Moses and Teser? This emphasises how important your purchases are to them both and their extended families.
Moses, Production and Workshop Manager
|Moses in his factory office.|
Moses started working in 1993 for Tribal Textiles having met the founder, Gillie Lightfoot, while working at a safari camp. These were early days for the company who were located under trees in the Zambian bush! The company developed over the next few years and more and more employees joined as the company grew.
In the early days, Moses had to travel long distances to work but since the relocation of the business in 1998, he now lives only 200 metres from the factory. He lives with his wife and five children on a small farm where he also grows vegetables, maize and rice to sustain the family.
His children attend one of the five local government schools which Moses has to pay for.
Along with the immediate family, Moses is also able to help his parents, grandparents and nephews and nieces; approximately 25 people in total. Thanks to his work at Tribal Textiles, Moses has been able to support all these people in an area of high unemployment and scarce job opportunities.
Moses said, “Tribal Textiles make a point of helping people in the local community. We employ around 65 people which, with all their dependents and extended family, means that over 600 people benefit from this employment.
This, in turn, has improved conservation in the surrounding area, as people are gainfully employed at the factory instead of poaching wildlife for financial gain.”
Teser, Retail Shop Manager
|Teser in the Tribal Textiles shop|
Teser joined Tribal Textiles in May 2002, as a casual employee and immediately moved into the Export Department. After three months she was made a permanent employee. She lives 1km from the factory and, regardless of whether it is raining or hot sunshine, walks to and from work everyday.
Originally, she worked in the tourist industry at a local safari camp and also ran a local tourist café, but these was only seasonal jobs providing insufficient income to send her girl, Mwila to school.
Teser is an independent and highly motivated individual who really wanted to help herself improve her life through a steady job close to home. With unemployment nearly 55% in Zambia and limited opportunities in Mfuwe, jobs were very scarce and comprised working at the airport or Tribal Textiles. She trained in her first permanent position for only one week and after one year became the Export Manager.
She has learnt valuable new skills and feels that she has been given the opportunity to learn while at Tribal Textiles. More recently, Teser has moved and is running the Retail shop at Tribal Textiles where she helps visitors to the shop with purchases. Her knowledge and experience help to make sales very much easier. Living with her husband and daughter, she also looks after her sisters two children ,mother and father as her brothers and sisters have all moved away from Mfuwe.
Teser works a six day week to provide for her dependents. She said, “Employment is so low in the area and Tribal Textiles provides real opportunities for people to learn all the different skills required to work at the factory. Without this I couldn't provide for my family.”