South Africa has approximately three million orphans, a number that is anticipated to increase drastically in the next two years.
A study conducted by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) estimates that by 2015, there will be more than 5.5 million orphans in South Africa. The study also found that South African families would rather provide foster care than adopt them.
“A lot of orphans are looked after by their extended families or family friends in a private, informal arrangement known as kinship foster care,” says the SAIRR.
While this is the case, several local nonprofit organisations (NPOs) have rolled up their sleeves and are pulling out all the stops to address this issue.
Just outside Potchefstroom in North West is an innovative social enterprise that is fast becoming known for its social development work in the sprawling township of Ikageng. Made by Mosaic is a job creation project of Mosaic Community Developments, a NPO started in 2008, but it is its special focus on developing a sustainable orphan care model that really makes it different.
Mosaic’s modules include providing housing and job opportunities for foster families, constructive afterschool activities for children and holistic life skills training for all involved. In return, the foster parents are expected to maintain employment, to pay rent for their house, and to financially support their families.
“We identify a family with two or more orphans formally in their care, and then we build a proper house for them that they can rent at an affordable price. We also create employment opportunities for them, empowering them to better provide for their families and gain valuable job skills training,” explains Jordan Ridge, Made by Mosaic’s manager.
Made by Mosaic’s vision is to create jobs in the craft and food industry, not only for parents involved in their programmes, but also for other people who struggle with unemployment in the surrounding community. When Made by Mosaic started, they had one product line-knitted scarves. Now, they continue to knit and crochet products, including blankets, hats, shawls, and baby products, and have expanded to include a leather workshop that manufactures handbags and a kitchen from which they sell rusks, cookies, chutney, lemonade, and gourmet cupcakes.
Ridge adds that Mosaic does not just want to employ people, but it also wants to empower and develop them holistically. For this reason, the organisation is currently developing a comprehensive life skills training programme that will qualify employees for more high-end work in the future.
By all accounts the programmes Mosaic runs have been successful. Jordan cites the example of Dorah Moeng, who is fostering two orphans and has one child of her own. In 2011, Mosaic provided Moeng and her family with a three bedroom brick house, a huge improvement from their one room tin shack. Moeng started working as a volunteer for Mosaic, and was later promoted to the level of Assistant Manager.
“My life and my children’s lives have changed for the better. I am now able to provide for my family, pay for their education, and other necessities with the wages that I earn through the Mosaic employment,” she says with a smile.
Although Made by Mosaic is a for- profit business, all income goes towards growing the business and supporting the NPO, Mosaic Community Developments. As a result, all operations work towards providing employees with the skills needed for higher level employment.
Made by Mosaic maintains a sustainable and socially responsible South African supply chain, so that the impact of the business can reach beyond the employees and develop the country’s economy as a whole. All items are handmade, thus enabling the company to produce special or customised orders, and Ridge explains that they can accommodate a wide range of requests.
In 2012, the company received a host of success and accolades. It was one of a few companies from the region that were selected to exhibit their products at Design Indaba in Cape Town. It was also selected as one of the participants to join Fetola’s award winning business support programme, Legends.
In addition, founder and manager Ridge was chosen as one of ten Google Zeitgeist Young Minds to attend an international conference hosted by Google in London. In 2013, Made by Mosaic opened its first store and the first gift shop destination in Ikageng at its location in Extension 11.
Made by Mosaic’s products are currently sold in South Africa and the United States, with partnerships being developed in Germany. Their products are also available online at (Shop Made by Mosaic). Made by Mosaic’s new online store will launch in December of 2013.To learn more about Made by Mosaic and their products, refer to www.mosaicsa.org.
- Abram Molelemane is the media coordinator at Fetola.