In 1998, in a kitchen in Pretoria, South Africa, an outreach project was born. This small one man venture has grown into a national network of grass-roots development projects across the country. Demos Takoulas with his business background and with a strong sense of community saw an opportunity to empower marginalised people in a sustainable manner by filling a gap in the jewellery industry. In 1999 the first accredited 3-year National Diploma in Jewellery Manufacture & Design was offered - entirely for free. There were 12 positions available.
Since then Vukani-Ubuntu has grown to educated 150 disadvantaged people per year. In the past 9-years 9 community-development projects have been set up (including 6 industry- related training and manufacturing projects) in 4 provinces. The latest of these is the Limpopo Jewellery Cluster in the north of South Africa, one of the most naturally rich yet impoverished areas of the country. Here people from the local community will be trained and given employment in the Vukani-Ubuntu manufacturing unit producing a wide variety of jewellery from more basic craft based items to high end fine jewellery.
Vukani have also pioneered a Fair Trade based accreditation (as yet there is no official international Fair Trade accreditation available for the jewellery industry) labelled FairMade. FairMade Jewellery
empowers marginalised communities to become self-sustained through direct access to local & international markets.The FairMade mark will indicate uplifting poor communities, ensuring sustainability, ethical practices, transparency and accountability and direct benefits to emerging jewellery.
Avasarah is delighted to be working with Vukani to begin producing our own fine jewellery collection, so check back for updates on this wonderful initiative as well as the arrival of our new line.