The Ubunye Foundation was established in 2002 with the goal of empowering local communities. Founded by Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, the Non-Profit Organisation had the goal of driving and supporting rural development. Initially, the foundation sought to support staff who needed to acquire new skills as the transition from traditional farming to the hospitality and tourism industry occurred alongside the establishment of the reserve. Since then, the Foundation has expanded its mandate and the geographic reach of its influence.
The Foundation has four programmes: Savings Groups and Financial Education, Leadership Development, Livelihoods and Early Childhood Development (ECD). Their philosophy is a holistic one, supporting development and empowering communities from a variety of angles. Obviously, my interest is in their livelihoods programme and, specifically, their Uthando range of products.
Uthando, the isiXhosa word for ‘love’, supports the development of livelihoods in rural communities. The products are marketed towards the tourism sector and used by Kwandwe. The Ubunye foundation supports local creatives with the development, marketing and sale of the range of Uthando products. The products include soaps, bath teabags, ointment, beaded jewellery and accessories, and my favourite, the Xhosa dolls. The dolls are made by a group in the Peddie area and wear a range of clothes such as ranger outfits and traditional dresses made from shweshwe and ibhayi fabric. The dolls have movable limbs and hand-painted faces. Each doll is given a Xhosa name. My doll, named Elihle, sits on the bookshelf in my office.
If you would like to learn more about the Ubunye Foundation or are interested in purchasing their Uthando products, you can explore their website from the links below.