|The Umtha Story|
|01 November 2012|
Compassion and hope in 1996
The vision to empower women from disadvantaged circumstances was born in 1996, when Dave and Cheryl met Jostina Dubase. Jostina was living at St Ann’s in Woodstock (an NGO which provides shelter and care for women in difficult circumstances). Dave and Cheryl realised Jostina’s need for employment and offered her a job. In order to reflect the new direction the business was taking, the name changed from ‘Best Beads’ to ‘Umtha’. Umtha is a Xhosa word meaning ‘ray of light’. The business continued to expand in 1996, seeing new employees from the townships joining Umtha.
Growth and blessing
Umtha gradually expanded and increased the number of stores it supplied locally. In addition, Umtha gained new international market access through the Fair Trade network and began to export to new Fair Trade customers in Australia, France and Germany. The business experienced blessing and breakthrough in 2006 and as sales increased, Umtha was able to employ more women.
By 2012 – Umtha is now 20! – we are supplying more than 50 major tourist outlets throughout Southern Africa with contemporary Africa-inspired jewellery. International sales now include customers in Switzerland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Caribbean. In order to supply beautiful jewellery to all these new customers, Umtha has employed over 50 people.
Umtha's commitment to Fair Trade and ethical trading principles has been recognized, and the business is now a member of WFTO-Africa and WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization).
Umtha has ridden many highs and lows over the last 20 years. We continue to progress and develop towards the achievement of our vision: to be an excellent business handcrafting quality, innovative jewellery and empowering people from historically disadvantaged communities. All our people have stories to tell, which make us cry and laugh with each other.
By Dave Milligan