Love Zimbabwe Fair Trade is a Community Interest Company (CIC), to which the charity is associated. Its business is trading African arts and crafts made by artists in Zimbabwe. They direct any profits back to Love Zimbabwe Charity so that we can support some of the communities who make the products, in turn developing their skills and resources and providing them with jobs and money.
The company works on the principles of fair trade, and deals directly with the people who make the products, giving them a fair price for their goods.
As a customer, whilst making a difference to someone’s life, you also get to enjoy genuine, quality African works of art, knowing that you’re supporting the producer and their community to sustain a better living.
Visit Love Zimbabwe Fair Trade at one of their craft markets
The first project that Martha set up was batik printing, in Marondera in 2001. This is still running and examples of this work can be seen on the Love Zimbabwe stall at their arts and crafts markets.
The types of batiks sold range from tablecloths and cushion covers to wall hangings. There are also a range of colours, including browns, reds, blues and greens.
Wire and bead animals
The next idea came from Matikuche Matikuche from Kotwa, the village where Martha was teaching. Matikuche made animals from beads and wire which were multi coloured and looked amazing. This was also in 2001 and, as before, is still thriving.
You can find a wide range of animals in lots of different sizes.
Pottery and ceramics
Martha was then introduced to a small community group who hand painted ceramics with animal and village scenes. The finish of these products was superb, and aimed at the tourist market. The range extended to cups, saucers, salt & pepper shakers, mugs, plates, bowls, vases, milk jugs and sugar bowls. This project started in msasa and is now the most popular of all the love Zimbabwe products.
Metal bird sculptures
In 2005 the main market place in Harare was destroyed and not allowed to continue. This gave Chikonamombe and his brother nowhere to sell their metal animal and bird sculptures. Based in Mbare, the ‘east end’ of Harare, the sculptures are created from scrap metal then welded together. They also had two workshops knocked down at this time.
Martha was introduced to Chikonamombe and was very impressed with their work. Many people in the UK now own one of these amazing large sculptures which are ideal for the garden.
In 2005 Martha travelled to Chivhu in southern Zimbabwe, on the road to South Africa, with her partner, David. She knew of some local wood carvers whom she had purchased some products from in the past. On arrival in Chivhu she was shocked to learn that the wood carvers had been removed from the roadside by the police and had fled to their village in the bush. With the help of local people and after a hair raising drive through the scrub land they tracked them down. Hidden away in every conceivable place were beautifully carved elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, eagles, buffalos, and tortoises. A community group already existed and now they had someone to sell to again.
Apart from the main projects already mentioned, Love Zimbabwe Fair Trade has also been involved in many other areas. The basket work is done by Thabeth Kunze based near Mashvingo. This has been running for 3 years now. Thabeth lives in a very remote village which takes 2 hours to get to from the main road. This work keeps Thabeth and her family going, as well as a small maize crop that she plants every year. She is a single mother with 3 small children. Her husband died from an Aids related disease in 2005.