Community development is a term that has been used within all spheres of business. It directly relates to the wellbeing of communities outside of your direct business operations. It involves the act of giving back and gives companies the opportunity to get involved in projects that add value outside the standard business context where goods and services are rendered in exchange for money.
This interaction and co-development between businesses and their communities is crucial for the survival of both parties. Even more so in the conservation circles, because wildlife reserves are primarily located in rural areas of the country. In addition, in these rural areas there are several traditional, yet rapidly modernising and growing communities. It is therefore important to include members of this community within your business and your future business growth plans.
One such initiative at HERD is the JabuLadies project. JabuLadies started as an idea to empower women with useful skills – skills that may be applied to improving their lives in the future. Women in these communities are often tasked with running the household and caring for their children and extended family. This can create a situation where the entire household relies on the salary of the man as the primary breadwinner of the household. The goal is to employ a handful of ladies and teach them critical skills, enabling them to care for their families by bringing home a second income. We want to focus on developing skills in such a manner that, should these ladies leave our employment to pursue their own micro-enterprise, the skills they have developed can be applied successfully to further empower them. Ideally items are easily made at home and sold at marketplaces – enabling these ladies to still take care of the household while generating a sustainable source of income.
We started off simple – as simple as hand embroidered bookmarks that were neatly packaged and sold within our network of curio shops. Later, we invested in product development and started with the making of placemats, elephant dung paper, and even elephant dung soap! This development brought two of our overhead goals together, namely community empowerment and leveraging elephant related goods. These products were incorporated into our curio shops and used as gifts for guests at the Jabulani lodge. Our elephant dung soap is sold to the Jabulani lodge as amenity soaps. In time, the sales will be expanded to other lodges in the area. This novel item can show that surrounding lodges also support handmade products from a local community.
Although we have spent a lot of time developing these new products to be made by the JabuLadies, we wanted a more refined and complete product. In turn, we started with the development of a gift box that can be sold on all our available platforms. This box will bring together the products made by the JabuLadies. We feel we have closed the circle by starting with an idea to empower and finishing with a tangible product that our JabuLadies and the HERD team can be proud of.
You can help to support the JabuLadies by purchasing their gift boxes on our online shop >