From a single idea in 1998 to a national network of grass-roots development projects across the country in 2011, Vukani-Ubuntu represents a victory of cooperative spirit that welled up from the desire to improve life for previously disadvantaged communities. These communities are people who were deprived an opportunity most others would take for granted: the ability to sustain themselves. Vukani-Ubuntu started teaching them jewellery skills within the framework of the jewellery industry.
This eventually led to formulating the now well-implemented Integrated Development Model, an ongoing blueprint for putting formerly marginalised individuals on safe footing, not only as skilled artisans, but also as entrepreneurs in their own right. Through the dedication to this noble mission Vukani-Ubuntu became the single largest trainer of emerging black jewellers in South Africa. It has established 11 community development projects in one decade, fundraised more than R 30-million from over 30 local and international donors and trained over 400 students!
Vukani created several brands and marketing concepts of jewellery, designed and co-produced with our various projects and other relevant partners for the local and export markets. Most notably, Vukani-Ubuntu developed and established FairMade Jewellery SA™, a concept adapted for the South African jewellery industry from the global Fair Trade brand and based on the same humanitarian and environmental principles.
The success started already with the name: "Humanity, wake up (Vukani) and help each other to help our communities (Ubuntu)." It was a complete mission statement in two words, a call to move, from helplessness and poverty to self-reliance and prosperity. From Dust to Gold. It conveys hope and inspires vision. It carries intent and defines the goal. Genuine concern about the cause, selfless dedication, unshakable belief that it can be done and the right insight has all been present too.
Perhaps these are some of the characteristics that captured attention and helped open the flood-gates of generosity from so many distinguished funders, sponsors and donors including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, European Union, givers local and international. The list is too numerous to complete here. Their understanding of Vukani-Ubuntu's aim has been crucial to moving forward.
Vukani-Ubuntu? Yes, they can. They know how and why. And their timing is always right.