Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gone Rural: Grass Turned Pride, Happiness and Possibilities For Swazi Women

Gone Rural was registered as a company in 1992 by the late Jenny Thorne to generate sustainable income for women in rural communities across Swaziland. What started as a small local business working with 30 women has evolved into an international company providing income for over 731 rural women and supplying their products to retail outlets across the world.

Gone Rural is fast becoming a globally recognized model of socially responsible business that promotes understanding and respect of Swazi cultural heritage and tradition. Our quest is for never ending improvement in the daily lives of our women artisans through economic empowerment and the upliftment of the thirteen communities that we work with.

The Gone Rural business model is committed to a holistically sustainable ideal which includes ongoing community development and responsible utilization of natural, renewable resources. The combination of innovative, contemporary design and exceptionally talented artisans has enabled our success. We are members of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) since 2006.

Gone Rural’s unique home accessories combine hand skills with high end design and are hand woven from sustainable, local natural fibres. We are continuously developing innovative designs and techniques to keep our product range of interiors, African vessels, gift sets and table ware fresh and dynamic. When a new product has been created, or a new technique used, training workshops are held to ensure high quality and to assist skill sharing among our women. Several women from each of our groups are invited to the workshops where samples are produced. These women then act as trainers for the rest of their respective groups. As our product range broadens we are using more mixed media, partnering other local companies for the materials required. Ceramics, recycled glass and metal products are bought in and incorporated into the Gone Rural range.

Gone Rural founded a nonprofit organisation in 2006, Gone Rural boMake, to assist the women and their communities with education, health and social needs. Gone Rural contributes with sustainable income generation for the artisans while Gone Rural boMake complements this progress with health and education programmes for the women and their communities. Gone Rural and Gone Rural boMake work closely together supporting women to become independent and live their dreams.

Philippa Thorne, Gone Rural's designer, entrepreneur and visionary

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