The Tintsaba Story

Tintsaba was founded in 1985 by the late Sheila Fremantle, as way to empower and improve the lives of rural women in Swaziland.

Starting with 12 women Tintsaba has today trained more than 1000 women and Sheilas' legacy continues head by her husband Richard and a full-time staff of 20.

Tintsaba run five retail shops in Swaziland, have a successful export market and have established nonprofit projects aimed at improving the lives of women, ranging from homeopathy to literacy.

Their products are recognised around the world for their outstanding quality as well as the beautiful story attached to them.

Tintsaba is located in the Northern Hhohho region of the Kingdom of Swaziland, a tiny, land locked country in Southern Africa.

Sustainable Local Fibres

Tintsabas' woven treasures are all centred around the use of sisal. Sisal Agave is an invasive weed that grows throughout Swaziland.
Before the sisal is ready for production the fibres must be stripped, cleaned and spun by hand in a local method called photsa.
The fibres are processed using little water and GOT certified organic dyes. Tintsaba endeavours to be sustainable in all areas of production. Cleaned sisal is purchased from producer groups, taken back to Tintsaba to be dyed and returned to be spun and woven.

Skills Development

Tintsaba provides the opportunity and the training for producers -usually semi-literate basket makers to move into finer, gallery, master weaver products such as technically perfect highly refined woven baskets and fine components for jewellery.

Skills range from cleaning sisal, to the craft skills of weaving the different components of jewellery and baskets. These artisans have the opportunity to become jewellers, silversmiths, and also skills trainers, guaranteeing a virtuous cycle of continuous training and development for all the producers. Using a fine coiling technique the sisal is woven tightly into the discs for jewellery and baskets. It can take up to 50 hours to complete the weaving of a basket.

Individual Development Projects

Tintsaba have set up several social programmes.

Tintsaba started a mobile health clinic with volunteer homeopathic doctors in 2008 and funded transport and medication - this has made a huge difference to the improvement of health in the women's groups and staff. HIV/AIDS awareness workshops are provided regularly.

All producers and staff are taught Brain Gym which helps concentration, emotional balance, coordination and equalisation of both sides of the brain.

A literacy programme, called Tintsaba Reads has been developed with manuals pertinent to self development and basic business skills. Seven skills trainers have been trained as literacy trainers and the first target group are the semi- or non-literate skills trainers.

Full time staff have assorted development training available to them as well as job related skills and opportunity to study skills outside their department, including driving, accounts and design.

Each staff member is developed as an individual which assures that they can evolve and have a long time career within Tintsaba: all the current management staff started working in Tintsaba as shop assistants.


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