Action Lesotho has facilitated training for LMC members in a whole range of relevant skills, including pricing, marketing, quality control and design. As a result, many new products have been developed, new markets have been established at home and abroad and a purpose-built LMC shop, gallery and café have been opened.
Between them the companies work with leather, wool (weaving & felting), cow horn and traditional Seshoeshoe fabric, making everything from shoes to bags, jewellery, crib figures, cushion covers, clothing, wall-hangings & rugs.
Case Study 1 – Enterprise Centre
When Action Lesotho first engaged with craft workers, one group – Nyenye Crafts – was surviving by collecting off-cuts of material to make quilts sold for a pittance. The little mud building they worked in collapsed in heavy rain and they were forced to sew their quilts on the ground outside.
Action Lesotho built an enterprise centre at Phukalla in 2012 and the Nyeneye Crafts moved into this clean, bright space. They now make exquisite felt figures & animals, along with a whole range of bags made from traditional Seshoeshoe fabric. Their products are now sold as far afield as America & Alaska.
Case Study 2 – National Craft Forum
A pioneering development in recent times, has been the setting up of a National Sector-wide Craft Forum. It was established during a conference hosted by the Irish Embassy in 2014. Action Lesotho is proud of its instrumental role in brining together private enterprise, the voluntary sector and government bodies to set up the Forum. With all the interested parties pledging to work together, and the stated commitment of government to engage, the future is looking positive for the craft sector in Lesotho.
Case Study 3 – Work Experience
LMC members have excellent practical craft skills but often don’t have the training, knowledge and confidence to come up with new designs. In contrast, art & design students at Limkokwing University of Innovation in Maseru, are well-trained in computer technology & theory but have very few practical craft skills.
Offering internships seemed like the obvious answer to meet the needs of the craft groups and the students. The placements which began in February 2014 are proving to be a huge success with a flowering of ideas and learning on both sides.
Case Study 4 – Specialist Training
Action Lesotho aims to ensure that the LMC companies receive the best training to give them the best chance of success. Unfortunately, not all the specialist expertise required is available in Lesotho. Fortunately, targeted funding provided by donors has allowed Action Lesotho to bring in International Textile & Design Consultants to train & advise the groups and also enabled members to go on study trips/training. For example, Fusi Shoes & Rose Leatherworks attended a two-week intensive course with a top leather worker in Cape Town for. A bag made by Fusi as a result of the training was so stunning it was chosen to be presented as a gift to Irish Ambassador Gerry Gervin.
Outlets for Lesotho Mountain Crafts products:
LMC Shop,Gallery & Café at Hatooa Mose Mosali, Teya-Teyaneng. Opening hours: 7 days a week 9am-5pm.
Living Life, Ladybrand, Orange Free State, South Africa – First Friday of the month, 5pm-9pm.
Buzz Backpackers, Ficksburg, Orange Free State, South Africa – open daily.
The premises of some of the individual LMC companies have public galleries/shops and you may be able to see crafts being made:
1. Leribe Crafts, Leribe
2. Positively Empowered Artisans (PEA), Leribe (Koloi Cowhorn Products are also available here).
3. Nyenye Crafts, Phukalla, Maputsoe.
4. Elleloang Basali, Teya-Teyaneng
5. Hatooa Mose Mosali, Teya-Teyaneng (Location of LMC shop/gallery/café).
6. Seithati Weavers, Maseru
7. Maseru Tapestries, Maseru
8. Rose Leather Works, Maseru
9. Fusi Shoes, Maseru