Charity works with Tanzanian blacksmiths to bring fair trade tools to UK

Fair trade tools made by community blacksmiths in Africa are now available to the British public, following a new programme established by Tools for Self Reliance Cymru (TFSR Cymru).

Tools made by ten rural blacksmiths in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria area are sold for a fair price on TFSR Cymru’s website and at various events and outlets in Wales. There are billhooks, drawknives, adzes, hand forks, trowels and root lifters currently available.

The Welsh charity is one of 70 TSFR groups around the UK and works with the Small Industries Development Organisation in Tanzania to provide communities with training in how to make and finish products, as well as in marketing and pricing, to help them build their businesses.

Earlier this year, Tony Care and Dave Thomlinson of TSFR Cymru visited some of the blacksmiths on the programme, and were happy to see operations running successfully.

“We are pleased with the way the fair trade tools programme has taken off,” said Tony. “Tanzanian blacksmiths have taken to the idea and are providing us with an expanding range of tools which are proving to be very popular with our customers. People really appreciate something which is both handmade and attractive, as well as useful.”

The fair trade programme has brought a new strand to TFSR Cymru’s main work, which involves collecting and refurbishing second-hand tools and sewing machines from around Wales to send to African communities, in an effort to provide people with the skills and tools to work their way out of poverty. In the past 27 years, the charity, based in Crickhowell, has sent more than 550 tool kits (each valued at more than £1,500) to craftsmen and women in the rural communities of Africa.