Knysna is a microcosm of the economic conundrum facing South Africa i.e. the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The tremendous influx of wealth brought in to Knysna from international tourism and developments does not filter down into the local disadvantaged communities.
The old Gaol Complex, the original jail of Knysna, has been converted to accommodate the following projects and businesses that are all run by women:
- The Muse Factory – Knysna women’s beading project;
- Maritime Museum;
- Original Prison Cell;
- Historic Knysna Elephant Display;
- Historical Knysna Personalities Room;
- Knysna Art Gallery – Knysna Art Society;
- Old Gaol Café – Restaurant;
- African Curio Shop; and
- The Art Room – art classes.
The Muse Factory project has empowered women by offering skills training, creating job opportunities and alleviating poverty, promoting self-development and a feeling of self worth. The women are taught the skills needed to make designs incorporating the traditional and the modern. A high regard for quality and craftsmanship remain pivotal in the drive for self-sustainability. The project is working towards uplifting the family unit and creating a vibrant community life, and to secure economic growth, with the realisation that the empowerment of women is the key to the upliftment of any community.
The objective of the Knysna Beading Project is thus to empower the women of these communities with skills and an income, for the benefit of the entire community in the long term. The Project will partner with FAMSA (Family and Marriage Society of South Africa), who will refer the women within their ‘Women In Need’ programs to the project. FAMSA’s goal of counselling is for clients to manage their problems on their own and to live their lives more effectively.
In addition to the Muse Factory Project, Business Outreach – a parallel empowerment program will facilitate the Economic Life Skills Education and Training course, offering the necessary insight into how businesses operate and the financial planning. The project addresses poverty and sustainable entrepreneurial development in an innovative and entrepreneurial manner as well as family budget planning.
The Muse Factory has a shop in Woodmill Lane Shopping Centre, Main Street, Knysna.