boMake Rural Projects

Making a sustainable impact in Eswatini through equitable social and economic community development projects, with Gone Rural artisans at the heart.

Founded in 2006, boMake Rural Projects is a community-based organization that supports women and their families in rural areas of the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland—see below*). boMake is the non-profit sister of Gone Rural Swaziland, which employs woman artisans to create stunning, high-quality handcrafts sold around the world. Our aim at boMake was to go beyond simply employing the women and to address their physical, mental and social needs in order to help them build sustainable and empowered lives.

We have impacted the lives of more than 20,000 community members, working side-by-side with them on projects focused on:

  • Health, which includes water, sanitation and hygiene; physical, mental and social health services; as well as providing medical services with a homeopathic mobile clinic
  • Education, both in the classroom, with school bursaries payments and early childhood development classes, and outside the classroom, with after-school youth programmes, building libraries and developing training for adults
  • Sustainable livelihoods, primarily through training in financial literacy and business skills to promote income generation, and the provision of secure spaces in which to conduct economic activities such as community halls.

‘boMake’ means ‘women’ in siSwati and the women of Eswatini are core to the work of boMake Rural Projects. We give rural women a voice and their families and communities access to important health, education and social services.

We do not assume what the women and communities need, but instead conduct extensive surveys to identify the most valuable projects. Then, with the aid of donors who fund the initiatives, we collaborate with the communities to deliver the requested services, such as safe water, school fees support, after-school mentoring for at-risk children, health counselling, community meeting places, financial education, and more.

Today, the goal at boMake Rural Projects is the same as it was over a decade ago: to build healthy and successful communities in Swaziland that are engaged, self-reliant and resilient.

The Kingdom of Eswatini

Surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique, landlocked Eswatini is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. It is known for its vibrant traditionalfestivals, game parks and great natural beauty but it faces high levels of poverty, the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, a struggling economy, with over 25% unemployment and declining agricultural production, which was worsened by the most recent drought in 2015–2016.

While it is rated as a middle-income country, Eswatini is one of the most unequal countries in the world with 69 % of people living below the national poverty line. More than three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas where there are few services.

3 regions, 52 communities, 780+ women. boMake Rural Projects currently works with 52 communities across three of the four regions of Eswatini—Hhohho, Manzini and Shiselweni. This is where the 780 women weavers of Gone Rural live. They remain at the heart of boMake.

Woman- and community-driven development. We are proud of the fact that women and communities propel our projects. boMake is aware that the people in a community best understand their own needs and aspirations. They are not only beneficiaries of our projects, they are our clients and partners.

A sustainable approach. In collaboration with boMake, women take the lead in identifying the needs of their community and are instrumental in developing and maintaining projects, while the community is always involved. We believe that this approach is most likely to achieve a lasting impact.

What can you do?

* What’s in a name? The Kingdom of Swaziland was officially renamed the Kingdom of Eswatini on 19 April 2018 to mark 50 years of independence. (We’re also looking forward to not being confused with a certain European country—try Googling ‘national flower of Swaziland’ and the edelweiss pops up.) Eswatini is not a new name—it means ‘place of the Swazi’ and has always been the indigenous name for the southern African nation, while Swaziland is an English translation.