HOW IT ALL BEGAN… Nomvula (nom Voo la) is a Xhosa word. It means “she who brings the rain.” It’s considered a lucky name because any sign of rain in Southern Africa is gratefully received. When Frances Becker, the founder of Nomvula’s was christened, the heavens opened and drenched the family and friends who were gathered at the church. Dinah, a young Xhosa woman who worked for the Becker family named Frances “Nomvula”—in honour of the rain that came that day in May.

about nomvulas

Our founder, mother to all, and all-round super star!

francesFrances “Nomvula” Becker is a dancer, choreographer, designer, teacher, filmmaker, mom and a Hodgkin’s disease and breast cancer survivor. “Knitting was very healing for me when I was ill. With that in mind I decided to teach knitting skills to those women (and men!) who desperately needed work. The idea was that a steady income would ultimately help their children as well as the whole community.”

Her dream and vision

“My dream and vision for Nomvula’s is to create jobs. I want to create a company that is socially progressive and economically transparent. A company that supports creativity and ingenuity and where concern for the well-being of the workers and the environment is uppermost.”

In 2008, Frances invited local women to attend a free knitting class in St Francis Bay. On the appointed day Priscilla and Letitia arrived. They were the very first knitters! Clifford, a local security guard came forward too. He was the lone man, eager to try his hand at knitting! It was slow at first, but the news spread. Nine months later 14 regulars were meeting regularly twice a week to hone their knitting skills and share their progress.

Unemployment is high in this little town as work is dependent on seasonal holiday makers. Our knitters live in an area called Sea Vista. Their homes are made from packing crates and corrugated iron. Rain is kept out with plastic, and floors are often sand. There is rudimentary electricity for some and no indoor running water or bathrooms for most. This semi-urban squatter community is typical of other areas in Southern Africa. Many of the community have travelled from even more depressed rural areas where unemployement is at an all time high.

At the beginning of 2012, we have 12 knitters who are full time partners of Nomvula’s. The business although still small, is generating enough full time work to put food on the tables for the knitters and their families. We also have several knitters who work from home.

Economic Outlook:

The concept for our company is to train our knitters in the art of manufacturing, marketing, and running a business with the goal to eventually own the business. Nomvula’s is not a charity and runs as any normal business does. What makes our company extra special is that the knitters who work here, run it as their own business with help from Frances. They understand that what they put in, they get out both financially and emotionally. We are totally transparent about all finances.

Your support: With every purchase of a Nomvula’s product you are ensuring continued employment within the local community and helping the dreams of the knitters become a reality.

Donations are always welcome: Over the years, we have been helped by many people and we couldn’t have got to where we are without this help, support and advice. If you or your company are able to assist in any way, we will gladly accept any donations, so please get in touch! From building suppliers, to furniture, workshop equiptment, computers, clothing, food or even school supplies for the knitters families, we’d love to hear from you

Meet Thobeka
ThobekaThobeka is our shop manager. She is a talented crocheter and helps our Knitting Group. She adds those special finishing touches to items with crochet edging.

As a pillar of the local community, Thobeka is Vice Chairman of the Community Policing Forum for St Francis and Sea Vista. She is part of a volunteer support programme that helps victims of rape. Thotho is also an active member of the “Say No to Nuclear” movement.

Her dream and vision
“I hope to learn more about the back office and business end of the Nomvula’s. I am keen to update my PC skills and to improve stock management for the shop.”

Meet Nomalizo
NomalizoNomalizo is another of our most talented and fastest knitters. She is able to take a rainbow of coloured yarn and create beautiful striped garments.

She is good with new patterns, changing hand knits to machine knits as well as crochet patterns. She is also a mom of 2!

Her dream and vision
“I’d like to learn PC skills and gain a better understanding of business. I also want to learn to drive. I hope Nomvula’s grows so much that in 5 years I can be a manager of a group of knitters–assisting them with new patterns and teaching people how to knit. My daughter is 4 years old and I want her to get a good education and to have choices in her career.”

Meet Zanele
ZaneleZanele, which means Last Born in her native language, Xhosa is the latest member of Nomvula’s Knitters!

She is a fast learner who is already excelling with knitting. She makes the most amazing mohair poncho’s!

Her dream and vision
“I would like to learn to design and to have my own knitting label one day.

I’d love to move from my shack into a real home because that means comfort and safety for me and my family.”

Meet Noneka
NonekaShe is a very fast knitter and likes the challenge of creating and making new patterns. A lot of our orders are from hand knits and she turns these into machine patterns. Noneka wants to find a group that helps people with funeral costs and comforts those who have lost loved ones.

She wants to make sure that families can bury their loved ones with pride and respect. Noneka is expecting her first baby in September.

Her dream and vision
“I hope to become more involved in the design process and pattern making. I’d like to learn more about sewing and how to use the machines. I love to create an idea, knit an idea and sew an idea!”  – 6 yrs later, Noneka is an accomplished knitter and patternmaker”