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Talking Fair Trade with Founder Monique and the importance of continued support to Africa

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Handmade African Homewares

The Coastal Drift business has been built with the core purpose of highlighting and supporting Africa’s traditional artisan talents to ensure their continued survival and success. Providing employment and a source of income to people in a region where wildlife roams the land and jobs are scarce is vitally important.

We have all felt the stress and strain over the past two years with the global pandemic. There now continues to be much heartache around the world, beyond the pandemic. In this diary entry we want to share why we continue our business, what drives us to push through challenging times and we create positive social and economic benefits for the artisans we work with. We also want to be transparent and share more specific detail about the knock-on global effects of Covid and other global events, and how this impacts the items we have in-stock or on pre-order.

African Hand-Made Baskets

Eastern & Southern Africa

For many Eastern and Southern countries in Africa – including Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia – agricultural products are the main commodity. Most people live rurally, though the cities continue to grow. Poverty remains a major problem (just one example – 89.4% of Malawi’s population live on less than $3.10 per day). Life expectancy impacts the socioeconomic makeup of these countries, where over half of the population is under the age of 18.

The World Bank sees the future potential success of Africa through supporting health, knowledge, skills and the resilience of its people. Like our work, there needs to be a focus on empowering women, girls and the general population with social, health, education and employment opportunities.

Artisan Homewares

For these countries, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on human life, further strained their health systems, reduced agricultural productivity, weakened supply chains, increased trade tensions, limited job prospects and exacerbated existing political and regulatory uncertainty.

The region also harbors some of Africa’s protracted conflicts, additionally their crops continue to be ravaged by locust swarms, and also they get decimated by an increasing number (and scale) of Tropical Cyclones each summer. This renders many of its countries fragile, with significant gaps in education, health, and skills development continuing to keep people from reaching their full potential. It also creates huge development challenges, impacts heavily on the lives and livelihoods of people, and hinders regional integration and trade.

The artisans who we source from are no exception. With destroyed crops impacting their sourcincg of natural fibres for weaving their pieces. Everything is taking longer to create and get to market, let alone get transported across the oceans to global customers.


It’s a given that, with our business, we have to respond to continual changes in the global shipping landscape. And for the 18 months up until August 2021, we managed to minimise the impact of the global shipping crisis. Unfortunately, now, it’s a different story.

For context, about 90 per cent of the world’s trade is transported by ship. Since initial lockdowns in 2020, we’ve seen disruption at all stages of the supply chain. Demand has increased for certain goods and raw materials, while workforces have faced Covid-induced shutdowns – resulting in delays, disruptions to schedules, being ‘bumped’ off ships, ports being closed and a steep escalation in prices. The average cost of transporting a shipping container is four times higher than it was just a year ago. Four times higher!

All these pressures impact on our small business here in Australia.

African Homewares - Coastal Drift

Ongoing support

Regardless of the challenges we face, our primary goal remains supporting the artisans of Africa.

But it must come with patience from the global customer, and an understanding that they will start to see some price increases.

We continue to place orders for handcrafted goods. At the time of writing, we have four container loads on order, with two of these departing Africa in March. We will continue to ensure artisans are supported financially, which in turn supports their social and emotional health and wellbeing.

We continue to source and buy from groups working directly with individual weavers and artisans. Each artisan is an individual and is their own boss. There is no such thing as an ‘employee’ or ‘staff’ with any Coastal Drift piece. Each item is produced with the skill, craftsmanship and love of an individual – making each and every piece unique, with its own special story.

African Artisans creating handmade furniture

Thank you

We want to thank you – our customer – for your ongoing patience while we deliver your orders. Above and beyond that, thank you for your continued support by bringing unique African pieces into your stores and homes. Doing so protects important African traditions, heritage and livelihoods.

In stock items & pre-orders

To help you navigate our website and easily see items in stock and what items are pre-order, we show a pre-order button on the relevant products.

Below is a snapshot of some of our in-stock items, that can be dispatched from our warehouse immediately.

To see our full range of products, in order to find the perfect artisan piece for your home, follow the link below!