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Dziythandizeni Trust, Zambia

‘Zanimals’ is a project that has been established in order to create a production line of small soft animal toys resulting in an income for the Dzithandizeni Trust.

The Dzithandizeni Trust Trades School, Zambia

Dzithandizeni Trust is situated in Garden compound in Zambia’s capitol Lusaka. Zambia (South East Africa) is twice the size of the UK but inhabits just 12 million people.  Over 70% of the population live on $1 or less a day and there is virtually no public education offered beyond secondary school.

The Dzithandizeni Trust has a unique and wholly embedded ethos of “helping yourself” which is how the word ‘Dzithandizeni’ translates to English. The school has survived by it’s persistent belief in entrepreneurship, the trades school mainly offers training in carpentry, hospitality and tailoring.

Their official mission:

“to empower the community with technical and entrepreneurial skills for improved standards of living through training accessible equally to vulnerable, able bodied and disabled, male and female youths”

With virtually no government funding, Dzithandizeni Trust Trades School has served its young community for over 30 years. It is currently completely reliable on sales of furniture from the carpentry production. The school has a vibrant workshop for carpentry equipped with wood working machines, originally donated to the school by The Danish Government. The production team (all previous trainees) produces quality furniture made from rosewood, pine and the local mukwa wood. The School mainly produces office furniture, school desk and outdoor furniture and has supplier establishment such as The Swedish and Danish embassy, The American School and the Lusaka City Council.

Help the tailoring division

Unfortunately the tailoring division of the school is currently suffering from lack of funds and the teacher Hellen has only ONE book to teach from and no money to buy materials. They have two pairs of scissors and some old non-electrical singer machines. They are desperate for materials so the girls can get some proper hands on training.

After buying a present for a friend’s girl at a local market in Lusaka, Silja Nyboe Andersen (The founder of Zanimals) got the idea that there could be a market in Europe to sell these cute little African teddies. Silja took the idea to Dzithandizeni and the tailoring teacher loved the idea. In three days the students managed to make templates, samples and produce 40 finished rhinos, zebras and giraffes. The project was completely embraced. Hellen the teacher said “This will create opportunities for all the girls – we can now finally practice what we teach”.

The aim of the project is to create a new income stream for the school as well as creating a project which could provide materials for training for the tailoring students. The pupils were so excited by the project that they came in to work on the weekend to show their commitment.

Partnering with Skandium

Dzithnadizeni has partnered with Skandium to get the Zanimal project off the ground. With the help of friends and family the first 100 animals has been sold.

1. Skandium will supply the school with much needed materials. In an attempt to bridge Zambian craftsmanship and Scandinavian design the first joint project will use Marimekko fabrics.
2. The Zanimals will be sold in Skandium’s shops in London and will be promoted through Skandium’s online channels.
3. The project is currently a trial to see if the students are keen to establish Zanimals as viable business and whether the logistics will work.

What you can do

We plan to sell as many animals as possible and of course all the money earned will go straight back to the school and students. By buying a Zanimal you are supporting Dzithandizeni’s tailoring school’s attempt to get more equipment and educational material. At the moment the tailoring school only have ONE book to teach from. The goal is to create a proper sewing school with electric sewing machines in order to support the students’ training and to develop an incubator program, which will support the graduates post graduation.
By supporting this project you are supporting the underlying ethos of helping people to help themselves as you are committed as a customer nurturing a unique entrepreneurial spirit. To support the entrepreneurial ethos of the school the Zanimal concept is about trade – not aid.


Disclaimer: Please note that this project was thought up in 24hours and executed in less than three days! The students have never done something similar before. Therefore: it has NOT been tested on children, Dzithandizeni cannot guarantee they last forever, each animal is unique and handmade, so may look different from each other. The filling is pillow filling. The fabrics are made of cotton but we’re not sure what the colour is made from. We hope that they will bring loads of joy and smiles. Any feedback is of course appreciated.

Images courtesy of Dzithandizeni Trust

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