Corporate Gifting - Essay Gifts



When Karun lost his job in 1994, he refused to feel sorry for himself. Instead, he started up with three staff members in a factory that measure 30m2. Since then this jewel of South Africa has grown immensely - the company now provides work for 94 people and runs from a 3000m2 factory! Karun credits his success to hard work, great customer service and products of the highest quality. He admits that a great amount of self-discipline and many personal sacrifices are required, but says it is all worth it. It also helps that his staff has a great deal of respect for him, not only because Karun has enabled them to look after their families, but also because he is known as a caring employer.

Karun acknowledges that there are times when it would have been easier and more profitable to just import products from China, but he believes that we need to stay committed to educating people in South Africa, and we have to continue buying locally manufactured products to create and sustain jobs. His peace of mind comes from the fact that their products are of the highest quality and last much longer than imported goods.

Karun and his team proved once again that to only sell Proudly South African products in an industry with mostly imports will create a better future for all, while at the same time enabling us to deliver top quality products to our clients. We are proud to be associated with this astute businessman.


Bead & Wire

Professor and his artists have created an industry that transforms wire into life.  Their creations have become sought after pieces and have already travelled from an informal settlement outside Cape Town to faraway places like San Diego Zoo. Professor is a true family man, and while employing numerous artists from his community, he uses his income to support and fund his two younger brothers' university studies.


Beaded items

This non-profit organisation provides training and work for women from the township of Imizamo Yethu in, Cape Town. Crafters make hand-made paper and paper products, which are decorated by a team of beaders. The product range includes gifts and jewellery, sold locally and internationally. 20 women work at this NGO and their earnings support 65 people. Although volunteers are currently helping the organisation to grow, the ultimate aim is for the crafters to take over the running of their business. To this end, training is given in business skills, planning, product development and marketing, and regular literacy classes are held.



Ceramic Art

These pieces were born from of a job creation project.  Fifteen artists were trained on a Craft Production Learnership course in 2004. A selection of these artists was chosen to partake in a Learn-and-Earn program. This led to the creation of a small business making and selling unique, hand crafted ceramics.  While South Africa has no shortage of extremely talented artists, the challenge lies in finding ways for them to use these raw skills to create a better life and a sustainable income. The ultimate plan for these artists is to run the business themselves and to grow and employ more people.


Fabric & beads

Elandsberg farm, in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, borders on tribal land where Zulus survive on subsistence farming, money sent home from migrant workers, government grants and pensions. Unemployment was close to 80% when they were moved to take action. The idea for a Crafting project was conceived in 1996, when they wanted to teach women who were already busy with chores such as collecting firewood and cattle tending, to manufacture crafts in their spare time.  Today they have trained close on 200 people in various beadwork techniques.As they progressed, the need to address unemployment among men, especially young men, became increasingly important. In 2002 they started to teach the skill of telephone wire weaving, a craft with its roots in traditional grass weaving. They formed WIRE CO, a name that means, “well made”. After just 3 years they taught over 400 people (men, women and the youth) a new marketable skill. Our hope is to grow these markets sufficiently so the crafters can support themselves and their families on their handiwork.


Hand Painted Ceramics

Nettie was a full time employee, in 2000, for a candle manufacturing company in the Overberg area in the Western Cape. At that time the Department of Labour identified this specific area as one with a very high rate of unemployment. They then identified various skilled individuals in the area to train those who were unemployed, and so they selected Nettie.  She thought it would be an easy and quick assignment. But after the assignment was complete the 4 ladies that she trained told her that it would be unfair of her to train them and then just leave them.  Nettie, who has an amazing heart and passion for uplifting others, took this opportunity to teach these ladies further. While still working a full-time job, she would take time before work, during her lunch breaks and then again after work helping the ladies paint items and then try and sell them to earn an income for them.  She managed to this for a year.  From her own personal savings, she then took the opportunity to purchase a small ceramic factory in Cape Town, but not wanting to uproot the ladies from their own homes, she then moved all the equipment in the factory to the small Overberg town.  Seven years ago, while on annual holiday, we by chance walked into the world of Nettie and her small group of ladies, and ever since then, we have seen the exponential growth of the factory as well as the individuals involved in the painting of these items. Today this project employs anywhere between 20-30 staff (depending on the time of year).  The ladies earn their wage per item that they paint, and most of them are the sole breadwinners for their households.  essay GIFTS is so proud of being associated with the passion that keeps Nettie and the team of ladies painting and growing year after year.



When we met Geraldine four years ago, she was a shy and insecure 20-year-old girl. As a member of our standby team she helped with the cleaning and packing of products, but we soon recognized her talent and potential, and integrated her into our core team. Today she is a supervisor and provides financially for her child and extended family. Geraldine admits that the early days were difficult. “The first time I had to operate the machines was quite scary, but as time passed I got used to it. As one progresses from the standby team to the core team you get filled with a love for the job. The thought that a product I make ends up in the homes of important people fills me with happiness and I’m proud of my creation”.

Stories like Geraldine’s, combined with a passion for design and a need for personal growth,
led Liz to establish her own pewter studio. Skills development is a big part of what she does
and while she acknowledges that it is a challenge working with unskilled people, especially
when under pressure, she feels that nothing beats seeing people gaining self-confidence and
realizing their dreams. “No person can stay self-centred when living these moments with
fellow citizens – it becomes a life passion to develop skills.”

Big jobs are a blessing for Liz and her team. It creates opportunities for skills development,
because the standby team has to assist with casting, mould making, polishing and packing.
It also leads to more sustainable employment, because as her studio grows she can employ
standby team members on a permanent basis. This in turn creates more spaces to fill on her
standby team. It’s a win-win situation which will most definitely reduce unemployment and
poverty in the community.


Sculpted Organic Ceramics

With a passion for ceramic sculpture, Lita started 13 years ago.  Her love for natural, organic appearances using mainly natural stains & oxides is her trademark. Ceramics is an art form, which keep her constantly excited. She empowers others by teaching a small group of ladies in her studio.


Street Photography

They were the ones who stood at the robot, begging for money, food or attention...

Now they are the artists behind a brilliant new gift range, and it’s brought to you by esSAy gifts – a Proudly South African gifting company – in partnership with iwasshot, a label that was established to provide former street children in South Africa with an opportunity to generate an income for themselves.

All the children who contribute artwork towards the gifting range received photography training through the Studio Bernard Viljoen Foundation, a Non-Profit Organisation that was established in 2010. The children are also involved in the manufacturing of the gifts, which gives them another opportunity to learn new skills.

Since the Foundation’s inception, 45 former street children have benefitted from the project. Thirty of them reside at Twilight Centre, a shelter for street children in Johannesburg, while 15 are part of Mamelani Projects in Cape Town.

A shadowed image taken by one of the children is the inspiration for the first gift range by iwasshot, but friendly faces on the streets of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as the official flag are on display. The range includes photo frames, key rings, fridge magnets, notebooks, coffee mugs, serviettes, pillowcases, coasters and placemats, and uniquely labelled packaging is used for each product


Wood & Leather

Three years ago Pardon stepped up and saved the day when his boss absconded while working on one of our biggest overseas orders. He borrowed some money, used it to take over production of the consignment and managed to deliver the gifts on time. To this day Pardon and his benefactor still work closely together to produce products for essay GIFTS. It's a relationship that does not only benefit Pardon and his family, it benefits everyone involved in creating the gifts - the leather company, the engraving company, the printers and the companies that provide all of the materials. And it's all thanks to one man's vision of a better future for his family.