Started in 2000 with two artists and three founders, Streetwires is a business with a social mission that is tackling the problems of unemployment and poverty in South Africa, Focusing on the unique and dynamic genre of wire art, their Proudly South African project is providing the skills training, support and raw materials necessary to enable over 100 formerly unemployed men and women to channel their natural creative energies into this vibrant art form.
Using the core tenets of upliftment, sustainability and innovation as their guide, streetwires is seeking to bringing their diverse skills together and working to build the future and the future of South Africa Streetwire art, unique to Southern Africa and largely unavailable beyond the borders, is a living testimony to the industriousness and creative spirit of their people. Born in the shanty towns and dusty back roads and baptized on the streets, today this genre is a thriving and legitimate art form in its own right, with many 'wiremasters' making a living selling their creations not only on street corners and at craft markets, but also in upmarket shops and galleries around the world.
Like their people, each hand-crafted piece is special in its own way, and each one has its own story to tell, while the scope for training, development and upliftment is enormous. In addition, most wire art lends itself readily to being branded, thereby increasing the appeal of these products for promotional purposes and corporate gifts, an area that Streetwires has pioneered.
Ripe, one of the country's leading digital media companies, has been instrumental in helping Streetwires achieve their dream of international exposure through the generous donation of a fully-enabled web site. The internet has been a key tool in helping them achieve their objective of introducing this vibrant and original art form to the world. Unemployment is the major hurdle facing South Africa, leading to numerous other social ills in the form of crime, poverty and the hampering of community growth and development. As a result, one of the primary aims of Streetwires is to create sustainable, meaningful long-term employment for as many unemployed and needy South Africans as possible.
By providing people with a workplace, permanent employment, a sense of purpose and access to resources like skills training and personal development. Streetwires is helping to improve the life of many formerly destitute South Africans.
Since its humble beginnings in October 2000, it has grown from an original team of two artists and two marketing coordinators, into a thriving concern permanently employing over 100 people, most of whom have learnt their livelihood through training within Streetwires.
Currently they are exporting their wonderful wirework to 15 countries and supply several large retailers and established corporate companies domestically, including global giants like Investec and Shell, this is just the beginning, they are actively seeking new outlets and markets for unique handmade products.
On the social side, they are in the process of establishing a Not-For-Profit company, Streetwires Training and Development, through which they aim to realize social and community development ideals in terms of skills training, individual artist development and a series of outreach initiatives in orphanages, schools and impoverished communities. In fact, recently it was confirmed as the country's first accredited Wire and Bead Art training organization.
Focuses is now on new product development, and employ a designer on a permanent basis to help conceptualize and develop new and exciting ranges. In April 2005, with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture, they opened the first Rural Wire Art Centre in the impoverished farming community of Clanwilliam, three hours west of Cape Town. future plans include establishing Streetwires Centers in rural areas throughout the country, all offering sustainable employment, hope and a sense of purpose to as many needy South Africans as possible, in places where intervention and opportunities are needed the most.