Monkeybiz is a non-profit beading project supporting women in Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships. Monkeybiz is dedicated to reviving the tradition of African beadwork by taking the love and knowledge that is passed down, over the centuries, from mother to child and turning this into contemporary artworks. These are then sold online and through various shops, and the artists are empowered bead by bead to become breadwinners and community leaders. As a result, women are financially empowered, crafters become artists, and the art of beadwork is revived.
Monkeybiz is the social responsibility project of Carol Boyes, who has been their biggest benefactor and they have three main principles:
- To empower women to become financially independent for their families and communities.
- To revive the art of beadwork, which has been lost due to modernisation and the youth not being interested.
- To create a platform for the crafters to become artists in their own right
What to expect from an internship with Monkeybiz?
Their office and retail shop are based in colourful Bo-Kaap. It’s a lively environment and tourists visit the shop frequently. On market days the artists come to the workshop to bring their art pieces, so the office fills up with energy and laughter. Monkeybiz runs on teamwork, and although they all have our own roles and responsibilities everybody helps out where they can – whether it’s in the retail shop or to pack boxes.
“It’s eye-opening to work with people who love what they do, are inspired daily to help the world around them and have a passion for change. This “do good” attitude permeates every layer of the people’s lives who I met in Cape Town. And at Monkeybiz each individual contributes to the goals and vision of the company. It was an amazing feeling to know that even though I was an intern, the Monkeybiz team valued my opinion and took my ideas seriously.”
Naomi Cherenson, United States, Monkeybiz