|Barbara: “Helping one another grow strong is what Monkeybiz is all about. It’s what we in South Africa call ubuntu [helping one another in the common spirit of humanity].” Monkeybiz
is an sustainable income generating non-profit organisation that provide self-employment opportunities to bead artists and provides them with skills training and support.
All profits go back into the communities through provision of community services which are partially funded by donations and gifts.
Monkeybiz is unique in many ways. This inspirational project empowers more than 450 disadvantaged people by providing beads and beading material to them. They live in Cape Town informal settlements like Khayelitsha, Philippi, Mandela Park and other areas and many of them are HIV positive.
These bead artists are producing exquisite hand beaded artworks - each a unique one-off creation. The women are paid for each piece they produce.
Bead art pieces
Since its inception, Monkeybiz beaded art has been taking the world by storm, wherever they appear! The bead artists produce quirky, one-of-a-kind bead art pieces suffused with the vivid colours, textures, stories and expressions from the townships of Cape Town - African culture is at its uninhibited best.
Their unique bead creations do not aspire to ‘high art’ nor lend themselves to intellectual responses, but simply reflect the life experience and reality of each artist. The Monkeybiz diversity finds expression in a huge variety of shapes and sizes - from gorgeous beaded dolls to multicoloured three-dimensional animals such as giraffes and elephants.
Each bead art piece has recognisable artistic integrity, a typically African vitality and exuberance and a quality that can only be described as emblematic of Monkeybiz.
To view the bead art options that are for sale, visit our online store or visit one of our retail outlets.
The bead artists
Monkeybiz is very proud of its stable of bead artists! The fact that Monkeybiz bead art pieces are sought after by galleries, museums and personal collections is testimony to the pioneering role Monkeybiz has played in elevating South African craft art to heady heights.
The crowning achievement of Monkeybiz is that it recognises and develops the artistic talent and ability of people who have never had the opportunity to express themselves through art.
To find out more about our bead artists, click here.
Beads and beading materials
Monkeybiz purchases richly coloured glass seed beads in bulk and supplies it to women in the townships of Cape Town. High quality beads are used to lend maximum lustre. The inner structure of each artwork is constructed of wire and Monkeybiz recycles discarded cotton clothing off-cuts from clothing manufacturers as the stuffing material for beaded dolls and animals. Monkeybiz brings the beads and cotton to the bead artists and collects the bead art pieces from them.
The bead art and other products
Click here to for more about our bead art and other products.
Services offered to the bead art community
Monkeybiz provides a range of community services. By doing this we ensure that our community has access to the services they need to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Monkeybiz provides incentives for the bead artists to improve and aspire to higher standards of their work by paying them according to the quality of their bead art work.
We provide our community with beads and all of the material that is needed for the making of the bead art for free. By doing this, and offering skills development workshops when needed, we ensure that our community has the support that is needed to focus on creativity and innovation in products.
Entrepreneurship and self-employment
Barbara: “Small businesses provide the means for people to make money and improve their economic situation.”
A non-profit organisation, Monkeybiz has flourished as a business since its modest beginning. This exceptional project, which has the potential to be replicated elsewhere, provide self-employment opportunities to 450 people, mostly women who were previously unemployed.
We encourage entrepreneurship within our community and therefore do not ‘employ’ our women per se, but buy their art from them.
Monkeybiz became a model for income generation and women’s empowerment at the grassroots level.
Barbara: “There are a lot of talented people who have never had any formal education, but who can produce goods for, say, the home-ware, tourist or art markets.”
Despite phenomenal growth and financial success Monkeybiz has maintained a sustainable business despite a continual lack of external funding, a benchmark for non-profit organisations. Monkeybiz focus its energy on ensuring sustainable income for our communities by constantly searching for new markets, distributors and retailers for our bead art pieces.
Monkeybiz purchases artworks from the bead artists, as well as markets and sells the pieces locally and internationally, and ploughs back the profit through a range of services to the collective. Its employment and skills development profile is exceptional, the latter aspect mirrored by the steady rise in the overall quality of the pieces.
In 2000 Monkeybiz's founders put their talents to work and came up with a bead art product that would revolutionize African bead art!