THE ARTISAN : VIKAPU BOMBA
Vikapu Bomba is based out of Tanzania and works with marginalized female artisans in rural communities. The social enterprise strives to help artisans in the southern highlands of Tanzania to revive their artisanal traditions, such as traditional weaving, that have been passed down for several generations. Artisans who work with Vikapu Bomba organize into producer groups and make hand-woven products such as tote bags, Iringa baskets, and home accessories; a local reed-like grass called Milulu is used for the fair trade goods. The women artisans develop and learn skills such as accounting, quality control, and group management. Income generated from the sales of Vikapu Bomba products helps the local economy and provides female artisans with sustainable income to take care of their families.
BEHIND THE SCENES with Vikapu Bomba
QUESTION: What are the materials used, and where do they come from?
ANSWER: All products of Vikapu Bomba are made from a local reed grass called Milulu which grows along streams in the Tanzanian southern highlands. The grass is either harvested by the artisans themselves or purchased from local Milulu traders. The grass is then split into several strings which are laid out in the sun to dry for about a day. After drying, the grass is bundled for weaving. Vikapu Bomba artisans weave around plastic samples to ensure that all products are the same size, shape and quality.
QUESTION: Where did the technique being used come from, is there a historical or cultural significance behind it?
ANSWER: Weaving has a long tradition in the Tanzanian southern highlands and the particular tight weaving technique is passed on from generation to generation.
QUESTION: Who are the artisans who make this product, and in what way is their life impacted as a result of working with this group?
ANSWER: Vikapu Bomba works with local women artisans in rural communities in the Tanzanian southern highlands. By guaranteeing access to premium markets, Vikapu Bomba is able to provide its artisans very fair prices through which they are able to sustainably improve their and their families' livelihoods. Vikapu Bomba artisans are able to send their children to better schools, to provide a healthy diet for their families and to invest in solar energy to have light at night. Several artisans even further invested their weaving income into small side-businesses (chicken farm, improved seeds for their farm) through which they are able to generate a secondary income. Overall, being part of Vikapu Bomba provides artisans with financial security through which they can sustainably improve their and their families' livelihoods.