In late 2014, Motaoane Chaka had an idea. It was so simple, so brilliant, he couldn’t believe no one else was doing it yet.
Aloe grows like a weed in Malealea. It is rampant. Omnipresent. Green leaves thick as thighs reach up into the sky as far as the eye can see.
Tourists are almost as common, and tourists tend to burn when they visit.
Motaoane’s idea was to make a healing aloe balm and sell it to these tourists.
He quickly discovered that the reason no one else was doing it was because even though the aloe was abundant and cheap, the other materials required for the execution of this idea were not. He and his craft collective Lehlaahlela would not be deterred, however. They found a supplier and got reasonable quotes, and then they applied for a microloan from the MDT.
In early 2015, the MDT sourced all of their materials for their initial rounds of production. Tourists visited. Tourists got sunburned on their hikes. Sales were great.
By 2016, Lehlaahlela had repaid its loan in full to the MDT. They have since independently expanded their range of products, using their profits to acquire different materials and experiment with new lotion formulations. They sell the range in the Handicraft store just down the hill from the tourist-haven The Malealea Lodge, and the store is a regular stop on the Lodge’s Village Tours.
The MDT is a micro-finance resource for members of our community with ideas. It is important to support innovative entrepreneurs on a path to sustainability and self-sufficiency. The ultimate goal is for these entrepreneurs is for them to be able to successfully run a fully functioning and independent business that can only help to bolster our community. We provide monitored monetary support, as well as advising and assistance.
We frequently support the construction of agricultural irrigation systems. Projects like these drastically increase crop yields, while freeing up time spent fetching and distributing water for other productive activities. The increased yields boost sales revenue, and farmers are able to repay their loans.
We are currently working on a project to construct a sheep dipping tank for the entire village. Mohair and wool exports are important to our economy, and dipping tanks remove parasites and scabs from sheep, greatly increasing the value of our herdsmen’s wool. The community is collectively covering half of the cost while we fund the other half.
- Any donated funds could help us to financially back Malealea’s next entrepreneur. New businesses in our village bring in more money and ideas, and can boost employment.