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Crafting a livelihood: Local-level trade in mats and baskets in Pondoland, South Africa
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This paper is based on a case study conducted in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Mat and basket traders are on average women over 40, who are poor, widowed or divorced. Therefore, they have to support themselves by selling their products. Access and control over the raw materials it is also important, most women use imizi (Cyperus Textilis) gardens. Imizi is a difficult material to harvest and it causes painful cuts due to its sharp edges. They learned the weaving skill from their mothers or relatives. Results show trading in mats and baskets is important but not sufficient to completely cover women's livelihoods needs. Women divide their time between crafting and other livelihood strategies as they feel that crafting is an insufficient source. The majority of the women say that the money earned goes to buy food. Businesses are also hindered by people taking products on credit, people taking too long to pay for their debts, women have to take time to chase customers for payment, too many women selling the same type of products, the low prices asked for, and poor access to better markets.