Gone Rural Weaving Academy

The Weaving Academy will create a new generation of artisans with complementing design & business skills to develop more women craft leaders

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Gone Rural

Year founded


Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $500k - $1m

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 500 - 1,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Swaziland

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Swaziland: eDlangeni 1, eDlangeni 2, Emdlangwe, Lamghabi, Emoti, Lavumisa 1, Lavumisa 2, Ngwavuma, Mahlanya, Mahlbatsini, Mtholweni, Mpuluzi, Fonteyn



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Swaziland has an unemployment rate of 52% (ruralpovertyportal.org). African Development Bank research in 2013 on youth unemployment shows high overall unemployment with long duration, concluding that living in urban areas & being mobile increases employment prospects of young people. The same level of opportunity does not exist in rural areas, where there is need to create sustainable employment options through innovative business models that provide self-employment opportunities for young rural women in particular

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Gone Rural provides home-based handcraft income to rural women - an innovative business model that creates economic empowerment for artisans with respect to the cultural context, by being flexible and mobile. In order to pass on the skills of these weavers to young women and capacite them to become self-sustaining and self-employed, the Gone Rural Weaving Academy is a mobile training initiative that capacitates women with design, business management and marketing skills to complement handcraft. In addition, the initiative aims to evolve our model of empowerment to where the artisans are ambassadors for the culture and heritage contained in the beauty they weave by hand. All this is aimed at giving more ownership of their livelihoods to the artisans. This will shift the dynamic from dependency to partnership in order to empower young women with the ability to earn income, the power of education and the freedom of self-determination - the most powerful effect.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Gone Rural provides income to 789 rural women artisans, through the skill of handcraft created from natural and recycled fibres and materials. Between 2006 and 2017, the average monthly income earned by each artisan has increased by 400%. This is as a result of increased investment in artisan engagement - through the creation of the Artisan Board which is involved in setting producer prices, and through the formation of producer associations for each artisan group - as well as through increasingly artisan-led design which commands higher prices for the weavers. In 2017 Gone Rural has invested in the process of creating a collection of products through artworks created by the women of the Lamghabi group comprised of 55 artisans, drawing from their stories of strength and motherhood. The Weaving Academy is the next phase of this evolved empowerment, building on the success of the artisans learning new design skills and as a result taking greater ownership of their products.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Initially the Academy will be supported by reinvested income of Gone Rural, where the social enterprise will channel funding into the formulation of a weaving, design, business and marketing curriculum that will be developed from January 2018 with the assistance of a Social Development Coordinator. Following on from this, grant funding will support the implementation of the mobile training initiative, scaling up to reach all 13 communities. Long term, Gone Rural is committed to continued reinvestment of income into the maintenance of this initiative through a portion of sales from artisan-led designs. The cultural ambassadorship created among the artisans through tours and teaching will further sustain continued implementation and foster artisan ownership over the program.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The innovative strength of the Gone Rural Weaving Academy is that it works in the cultural context of our rural environment - providing a mobile empowerment solution that trains young women in a set of skills that will not only create employment but will also allow the flexibility to participate in rural life. Furthermore, this is a unique empowerment model that redresses the power dynamic inherent in the craft industry. This creates empowered artisan and community leaders among young women.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

When Gone Rural was founded in 1992, the concept of empowerment and social enterprise was revolutionary and far from the buzzwords they are today. Over 25 years, the company has built a sustainable business model that is centered around increasing the income of rural women - a quarter of a century later it is time to evolve this model of empowerment. Gone Rural is privileged to have a number of multi-generational families of weavers - where a grandmother, mother and daughter all weave for the company. It is imperative that we continue to build on this work through the generations to a point where a grandmother, mother and daughter design internationally coveted products, manage rural handcraft tours, train young weavers in certified skills and market beautiful handmade basketry from their own hands. The time has come to unlock the potential of women weaving their own stories.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

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Gone Rural is a handcraft social enterprise unlocking the potential of rural women artisans in Swaziland to weave their future. The Gone Rural Weaving Academy is designed to develop a new generation of skilled weavers & artisans with complementing design & business skills that can be applied to developing more women craft leaders in Swaziland to retain the traditional craft skills of the country

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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Great iniciative.