Women in CSR – Nsanshi Art, Creating Shared Value through Art.
The need for a viable and sustainable women’s empowerment project inspired the establishment of Nsanshi Art Studio in Solwezi, North-Western Province.
The women-run workshop is adding value to local minerals, promoting employment and raising living standards for vulnerable women and girls in the community.
Riding on the rich history of mining in the province, First Quantum Mineral’s community wing, the Kansanshi Foundation, set up a jewelry factory that seeks to empower local women while adding value to the copper that the mining firm produces.
This community-based programme is adequately tailored to provide employment, skills training, and improving value chains in the province.
“Nsanshi Art Studio provides employment to these young women during a two-year apprenticeship, while raising funds for vulnerable women and girls in the community, via sales of the products made in the workshop, and adding value to local minerals,” said Kansanshi Foundation Manager Bruce Lewis.
Over the years, there has been an appeal from various stakeholders for value-addition in Zambia’s mining industry. In the main, Zambian copper is exported in raw form.
It is encouraging that Nsanshi Art Studio is changing this narrative. All the copper used in the workshop comes from Kansanshi Mine’s plant. The team get it as off-cuts and odd pieces.
“We put these in the furnace and convert them into copper bars. From there, we work the bars into flat or round pieces, or wire, depending on what we are making. We design the piece, decide what material is needed, and then work it through the roller,” explains Michele Scholtz, who has been spearheading the training.
Currently, there are 10 women undergoing a two-year course in metal smithing. These ladies, all from Solwezi, are supported by the mine with student wages.
Six of the girls were selected by his royal highness Chief Kapijimpanga while the other four (4) came from the vulnerable.
The training started with making spoons with a view to teaching them the basics of sawing, doming and soldering. They then moved onto making rings of various forms.
“They have since advanced to making bracelets and other items. Currently, they are being taught how to make various settings to incorporate into jewelry pieces,” Scholtz elaborated.
“We hope they can acquire a skill to support themselves and be self-reliant in the future without having to rely on a husband,” she added.
The money generated from jewelry sales goes to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) for the running of the One Stop Centre for Gender-Based Violence at Solwezi General Hospital and the Safe House that have been built by the mine. These facilities provide support to girl child marriage and abused women victims.
Funding channelled into the project is as follows: building – $75 021; tools – $22 928; laser engraver – $62 771.
The state-of-the-art laser engraving machine has the capacity to engrave a photograph on to any metal. The beauty about this empowerment programme is that it will continue to generate funds even after the mine has closed.
Success stories include the export of 30 sets of ear rings to Panama. The students also took part in a design competition from Association of Women in Mining in Africa (AWIMA) and one of them was selected as part of the top 10 designs, a great achievement for the project.
Nsanshi Art Studio is indeed creating a range of unique and inspired copper items that are certain to gain a huge market in Zambia and beyond.