Claire Shepherd, a native South African has developed a new business with a festive theme, which was set up earlier this year in Cumbria. ZuZa Trading imports and sells contemporary Christmas handcrafted home décor and accessories, sourced from crafts people involved in vital income generation projects in South Africa.
Claire moved to Edinburgh in 1999, where she undertook an MBA in International Business studies. Whilst there, she met her Husband, Stephen and after falling in love with the Lake District moved here in 2010 to run a guesthouse near Bassenthwaite. Traditionally the tourist season dips over the winter months, therefore Claire was looking for something to earn extra income whilst the guesthouse was quiet during this time.
Claire often returns to South Africa to visit family and whilst there last year was inspired by some of the projects taking place in her old neighbourhood of the KwaZuluNatal region, also known as ‘the garden province’. One of the most prevalent problems of this area is the high numbers of people with HIV or Aids. South Africa as a whole has more HIV-positive citizens than any other nation (6.1million people), but according to figures from UNAIDS, KwaZuluNatal is one of the most affected regions – with about a third of the people living with HIV in South Africa, living in the province.*
Without the proper nutrition, health care and medicine that is available in developed countries, large numbers of people suffer and die from AIDS-related complications. However, income generation projects set up in the area are helping individuals and families earn money and build their lives again rather than relying on charity handouts.
Claire was inspired by some of the stories from the region and wanted to be involved in one of the income generation projects. As a result ZuZa Trading was born. She now works with a small charity in South Africa called Woza Moya. This charity has various different programmes supporting families and the communities in KwazuluNatal who have been affected by HIV/Aids.[www.wozamoya.org.za]
“I had been looking for something to keep myself occupied for a while when business was quiet at the guesthouse and after seeing the income generation projects in the KwaZuluNatal I knew I had to get involved.”
Many of the products in the ZuZa Trading range are part of the income generation project which provides crafts people with a regular income for the unique crafts that they produce. The Christmas range includes contemporary decorations from baubles to tea light holders and centrepieces which are sold at craft fairs and events across the UK. The decorations are mostly crafted with traditional products such as Zulubeadwork and Zulu Pearls all using traditional techniques handed down from generation to generation.
Although in the early stages of the business, Claire has been able to send vital funds back to South Africa from the money she has raised through selling the products. After attending one Christmas market she raised enough money to send two children to school for a year.
“Not only does the new business help generate extra income for myself, but also supports many craftspeople in my native South Africa and helps them make a living, giving them a good quality of life. To say that selling one of the beaded Christmas trees could provide a family of four with their Christmas dinner or send a child to school makes it a very rewarding business to be involved in.”