Social entrepreneurs share their 2017 Christmas wishlists

Social entrepreneurs know all too well what’s required to make a real difference. We asked Brian Mokhachane of popular backpack brand SoulArt Foundation, C Harvey of young Black art platform Baltimore’s Gifted and Ruramai Musekiwa of design brand Sibahle what they’d like to give their loved ones. We also asked which of their own products they’d like to find under the tree. From Xhosa-inspired laptop bags, to Afrocentric children’s books, their answers may make you want to raise your gifting game…

Brian Mokhachane, SoulArt Foundation

Brian Mokhachane founded SoulArt Foundation after becoming frustrated with the cost of art resources and creating canvas from old newspapers. It’s since evolved into a youth skills development project that creates all kinds of art from discarded materials, including a wide range of bags and backpacks.

His give? An upcycled laptop bag.

His receive? A Nomad backpack from the #SoulArt18 collection.

A model wears a backpack from the SoulArt Foundation range

“I would love to give an upcycled laptop bag to my sister for her first year in varsity next year,” Mokhachane says. “She’s been on my case about the material we’ve recently developed so it would be awesome to surprise her with a custom product from the #SoulArt18 collection.

“We’ve developed a textile using upcycled cotton mash inspired by the traditional Xhosa cultural print. I love the aesthetic of the textile print because we’ve referenced a culture that we are familiar with and a lot of people can relate to. I would love to give my sister the bag and also give my mom a shopping bag made from the same material. She’s been very supportive from day one. She didn’t have much and bought me my first sewing machine from a pawn shop. She’s always been so supportive.”

The SoulArt Foundation Masihambisane Travel Bag is handmade from recycled materials

In terms of what he’d like to receive himself, Mokhachane has his eye on a Nomad backpack designed by SoulArt mentee Siphiwe.

“Siphiwe has been really persistent and very passionate about learning the craft. He inspires me,” Mokhachane says. “He’s currently in-studio working on our #SoulArt18 collection.”

C Harvey, Baltimore’s Gifted

C Harvey’s Baltimore’s Gifted seeks to address the exploitation of young Black artists by nonprofits, predominately white institutions and by youth unemployment. While C doesn’t celebrate the holidays, she does have a gift in mind.

Her give? Children’s book Go to sleep Oriah.

Her receive? Angel investment and peace of mind.

“The gift I would give someone special from a social enterprise would be the Go to sleep Oriah book. It’s a children’s book written by a Black mother who had trouble finding appropriate or relevant bedtime stories for her children,” Harvey explains.

“The book is named after the author’s eldest. It’s important that youth, especially black youth, see a healthy reflection of themselves and hear narratives that accurately portray who we are.”

Baltimore’s Gifted artist Akia Jones wears his Afro Queen shirt

In terms of what she’d like to receive, Harvey says she created Baltimore’s Gifted to give back but could benefit from additional funding.

“I’d like to receive peace of mind! But I think that’s something I have to give myself. It would be great to receive enough angel investment or donation so I can continue my work. Things in Baltimore have gotten tough for me, so I can’t fund myself like I usually do.”

Ruramai Musekiwa, Sibahle

Ruramai Musekiwa started Sibahle in 2015 as a way to celebrate and promote positive African stories via creative mediums. This year she’ll be spending Christmas with her family in Cape Town and says she couldn’t think of a better way to close off 2017.

Her give? A Trebene scarf by Bushera Bashir.

Her receive? Cushions or a décor plate from the Sibahle range.

“I would love to give my mother a Trebene scarf,” Musekiwa says. “Trebene scarves are made from authentic cashmere from Kashmir. The backstory of Trebene is about upholding an ancient tradition and it’s underpinned by the ethos that each step of the journey is pure and authentic, detailed and delicate. Bushera’s love for her heritage and the emphasis placed on ethical trade from concept to creation is admirable.”

When it comes to gifts from her own range, Musekiwa says she’d love to receive either a few of her cushions or a décor plate.

This cushion from the Sibahle range will be rolled out in the New Year

“I’m excited about the new range of products that I’ll be rolling out next year; particularly the cushions and décor plates with my signature artwork on them. The upcoming product line speaks to what Sibahle stands for – a celebratory and transformative African narrative.”