Monkeybiz is a nonprofit income-generating bead project started in January 2000 by ceramic artists Barbara Jackson, Mathapelo Ngaka, and Shirley Fintz. Through creating sustainable employment, Monkeybiz focuses on black women’s economic empowerment in the most economically under-resourced areas of South Africa.
Monkeybiz has established a vibrant community of more than 300 bead artists, many of whom are the sole breadwinners within their households, and has transformed the beaded arts market in South Africa. Departing from the culture of mass-produced curio craft, each Monkeybiz artwork is unique, using the traditional method of beading with needle and thread. Every piece is signed by the artist, ensuring that individual artists receive recognition for their work and encouraging buyers to collect certain artists’ work. All of the profits from the sales of artworks are reinvested back into the community.