Gone Rural was founded in 1992 by Jenny Thorne, with the objective of providing home-based income and economic empowerment to Eswatini’s rural women through craft. Since then, the company has grown from working with 30 women to 780 talented weavers based in 13 communities throughout Eswatini.
The basketry and home products are woven using indigenous lutindzi grass and sisal which is carefully dyed in our workshop using eco friendly products. The grass is then distributed to the 13 community groups for production. The finished items, which range from essential tabletop and home products right through to decorative art pieces are sold worldwide, thus sharing the beauty of the Swazi handcraft beyond the borders of the kingdom.
Gone Rural also has a sister NGO, boMake Rural Projects who further provide support to the artisans, their families and communities through education, borehole instillation, mobile clinics, health and sanitation therefore extending the impact beyond the woven products.
In Eswatini, you can find Gone Rural products at their flagship store based on the Thorne family property called Malandela’s Farm, which in time has grown into a unique cultural centre including the events venue House on Fire, built by Jenny’s oldest sons, Jiggs and Sholto; the offices of travel adventure company All Out Africa, co-founded by their younger son Roland; and the family owned Malandela’s farmhouse pub and restaurant. In addition to this the products can also be found at Ngwenya Glass, Swazi candles and Nisela Safari’s.
What started as a small enterprise, now has a global reach, and impacts hundreds of families. If you would like to learn more while visiting Eswatini, Gone Rural offer weekly workshop and homestead tours which give you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the process and the impact of the business.