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Published on Apr 20, 2009
Monkeybiz is a nonprofit income-generating bead project started in January 2000 by ceramic artists Barbara Jackson, Shirley Fintz and Mathapelo Ngaka. Through creating sustainable employment, Monkeybiz focuses on women's economic empowerment and health development in the most economically under-resourced areas of South Africa. The project, which has established a vibrant community of more than 450 bead artists, many of whom are the sole breadwinners within their households, has transformed the beaded arts market in South Africa. Departing from the culture of mass-produced curio craft, each Monkeybiz artwork is unique and is signed by the artist, ensuring that individual artists receive recognition for their work. All of the profits from the sales of artworks are reinvested back into community services, including an HIV wellness clinic, weekly soup kitchens, yoga, drama and choir groups, as well as a burial fund for artists and their families.
Monkeybiz artwork is sold worldwide in a variety of upscale galleries and well-known shops, including ABC Carpet & Home in New York, Selfridges of London, DiceXDice of Fukuoka, Japan; as well as on the website www.monkeybiz.co.za.