On the edge of the beautiful South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, social enterprise Tribal Textiles has made significant strides in uplifting a small rural community with eco-friendly and ethically crafted textiles. The company, which is now in its 30th year, is one of the biggest employers in the remote area and follows a corporate social responsibility strategy that provides sustainable employment and reinvests a percentage of the profits back into local community and conservation initiatives. Developed for minimal environmental impact from sourcing to production, Tribal Textiles’ home decor pieces are handmade at their workshop in Zambia and shipped around the world with a portion of shipping costs donated to supporting children at the local Hanada orphanage. 

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Two people holding blue zigzag pattern fabric in front of a yellow background.

With 86 local Zambians currently employed, Tribal Textiles offers a wide variety of handmade home decor pieces and accessories from pillowcases and tablecloths to face masks and aprons. All products use locally sourced and sustainable materials with waste repurposed wherever possible. The hand-painted textiles are inspired by Africa’s vibrant heritage and culture and combine traditional Batik techniques with contemporary compositions and bold colors. 

A set of wood spoons on top of an orange and white patterned cloth.

According to the company, all employees receive a fair monthly wage with annual paid leave, sick pay, bereavement pay, a housing and travel allowance as well as other benefits such as daily breakfasts and lunches and access to free HIV screenings. By providing sustainable and stable employment in a job-scarce area, Tribal Textiles is also able to help reduce the rates of poaching and deforestation in the wildlife-rich region.

A napkin and napkin ring set on top of a white plate on an orange and white patterned cloth.

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Five percent of every Tribal Textiles purchase is reinvested into local community and conservation initiatives, including Conservation South Luangwa, Zambian Carnivore Programme, BirdWatch Zambia, and Bio Carbon Partners as well as the Malimba School, Hanada Orphanage & Chipembele Education Trust and the Luangwa Artisan Collective. The local artisans have also helped supply the community with approximately 35,000 hand-sewn face masks. 

+ Tribal Textiles

Images via Tribal Textiles