Yawama of Sweden was founded in 2012 by Nicola Fackel. Her Swedish father, Rolf Eriksson, moved from Kalix to Zambia to work with agricultural cooperatives in the 70s. There he met her mother Dorothy Findlay and fell in love. Nicola is one of 4 children. Nicola was born and raised in Zambia but has lived for several years in Sweden where she also studied at the Umeå School of Business.
“For many I have worked with development work in Africa, to fight poverty and create jobs for local people. I have experienced the difference it makes when people are given the opportunity to support themselves and lift themselves out of poverty.”
It was out of the realization that the idea of Yawama of Sweden was born.
Partnerships in Sweden
In Sweden, the brand has partnered with Clara Lidstrom and Anna Lidström. Clara manages one of Sweden’s largest blogs “Underbaraclaras Värld.” She also works as an author, writer, photographer and radio producer. Anna Lidstrom is an established designer and stylist who has exhibited her works around the world and also lectured extensively for design students. Both are involved in the development and design of new products taking into consideration the prerequisites of the producers in Zambia. Clara is also the brand ambassador.
Partnerships in Zambia
At Yawama of Sweden, we work very closely with our partner Little Ndaba based in Zambia. They ensure that the production is correct at all stages and that the soft toys maintain a high quality.
The cotton yarn for the animals is imported from Tanzania and then delivered to the remote villages where our female producers live. When Yawama of Sweden started in 2012, we worked with 6 women. Today, the network has grown, and more women have joined. At present, we have over 50 manufacturers.
The women carry out most of the work on the toys from their homes. It allows them to work while being responsible for children, household and agriculture – tasks that usually fall on the woman in the family. Opportunities to earn a living are limited in these rural areas but by knitting and crocheting our orders, women are able to earn their own income. The earnings go towards children’s schooling, malaria medicine or improvements to the home. Financial independence strengthens the role of women in the family.
When the parts of the knitted animals are ready, the women gather. They submit their finished items and pick up more yarn to be able to produce new toys. These occasions are an important social meeting place that also allows them to develop their craft skills.
At Little Ndaba’s workshop outside of Lusaka, a group of trained women is responsible for assembling the parts that make the stuffed animals. This is a meticulous job where the toys are washed, stuffed and quality controlled. When the stuffed animals are ready, they are packed and shipped to Sweden. If we are lucky and there are no unforeseen circumstances, they land with us in Umeå about three weeks later.