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uSisi Designs
The idea for uSisi (which means “sisters” in Zulu) Designs originated during the 1980s in the ethnic “homelands” of the old South Africa – the South Africa of apartheid and forced resettlement. The group’s founder, Stella Pretorius, worked with children suffering from disabilities, but found that most were also experiencing severe malnutrition, as their parents could not provide for them. Leaving the healthcare field, she decided to launch a series of income generating activities for these parents; in 2004, uSisi was the latest of such project aimed at giving disadvantaged South Africans means to support themselves and their families.

Since then, more than one hundred women have worked with the project, earning enough money to put their children through school, build houses and keep food on the table. Currently 40 women from different cultural backgrounds from the central and surrounding urban areas of Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal work together to craft the groups’ innovative products. The artisans come into the workshop once or twice a week where they receive their raw materials and instructions. To perform the craft work, they return to their homes, where they can look after their children and households and save money by not traveling every day.

The mission of uSisi Designs is to enhance their products and procedures in all areas of work to increase profitability, productivity and quality. To nurture and train all staff to develop personally and professionally and to create a dynamic, ethical business and workforce which benefits both uSisi Designs, the producers and their families.

uSisi Designs is a proud member of the World Fair Trade Organization and fully aligns itself with the 10 principles that govern the Fair Trade movement. Having first joined the organisation in 2010, the business has been positively impacted by being a member of the WFTO through trading with other fair trade organisations. This has increased their turnover and become a great bridge in gaining market exposure in the export market. Back home, implementing the processes and ensuring that the business is closely aligned to the 10 principles has improved work practices and the general organisational structure.

uSisi Designs

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