Supporting the sisterhood

State of the Nation is a Jo'burg-based cooperative that's empowering women by teaching them creative skills that earn them money.
Posted 27 Nov 10 By Design Indaba Craft Creative Work / Design News Comments

Unemployment in South African is known to be around 25%, one of the highest figures in the world. So believing as we do that creativity can change the world, it’s inspiring to learn about local initiatives aimed at providing sustainable jobs while also sharing creative skills.

State of the Nation is a cooperative based on a small holdings adjacent to the Diepsloot township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It’s an initiative that employs women from impoverished communities and teaches them beautiful crochet skills.

Started and funded in 2007 by Romy Stander, the cooperation employs 30 women. In April 2010 Stander quit her job as interior decorator to fully concentrate on State of the Nation.

In a secure and positive environment women are taught to crochet bags of different shapes, sizes and colours using recycled plastic bags. Industrial sewing machines are used to finish off the creations with Afro-inspired fabric lining, hand-dyed materials and leather detail.

Understanding that creativity needs to be supported by a commercial strategy, the women at State of the Nation are also taught different business skills, from public speaking, money management and training, to just understanding and appreciating the value of sisterhood.

To date, State of the Nation has received an overwhelming response from both national and international press and are in the process of signing up many distributors from all over the world.