The ‘star’ of Botshabelo

Lucia Nyane and Thandi Tlali PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The Naledi Factory located in Botshabelo is a beacon of hope for many and a factory that has made dreams come true.

After the factory had been battling to remain sustainable against the increasing force of cheaper imports and rising input costs, the Naledi Star jewellery range was born. The range is now displayed in about 50 Woolworths stores nationwide and are designed and made by local women in Botshabelo. The factory employs roughly around 50 people permanently and between 100 and 200 on seasonal contracts during peak times.

One of the employees at the factory, Lucia Nyane (52), said she started working at the factory in 1990 and took a break from 2010 till 2013 before she returned the factory.

“Everyone at the factory have became friends and family over the years. It is really nice working at Naledi and it feels as if you’re at home. Everything is so calm and you really feel comfortable. The factory helps a lot of people in the community. We raise our children here, our children go to school – some are now grown up – and we really have achieved a lot. We have even extended our houses and we have everything we need because of our jobs at the factory,” Nyane added.

Factory manager, Carien Schriefer, is part of the design process and production. She told Bloemfontein Courant that the factory belongs to the workers, as Malcolm Westmore, the owner and head of the fashion accessory company Westcor, decided to transfer assets to a staff trust around four or five years ago. “He doesn’t want to make money out of it, he just wants to make sure that the staff members have a job to secure their future,” Schriefer said.

So next time you need a piece of jewellery to complete your outfit, remember Naledi is a proudly African jewellery brand, born in the unassuming Botshabelo township in the Free State. Meaning “a place of refuge”, Naledi is the result of many people coming together to create sustainable employment for the community, in turn providing hope and self-empowerment. – Pierce van Heerden