Eswatini Kitchen was established in 1991 in Swaziland by Manzini Youth Care (MYC), a Salesian NGO supporting marginalized youth in the country. The main objective was to create employment for disadvantaged women, provide a market for small local farmers and rural families who harvested wild fruit (especially guava and marula). The profit generated was to be destined to fund Manzini Youth Careís social programmes. The project started with 5 women that worked in a one room kitchen and covered every part of the production process.
Within two years the project was breaking even and reaching its goal of employing disadvantaged women. Through the support of an Australian volunteer that helped set up the project, Jo Edward-Cole, Eswatini Kitchen managed to get its first important international order from
Oxfam Australia: a full pallet of jars! Eswatini Kitchen added new staff extending the team to nine. Through the joint effort of Sister Judith Dean O.B.E. and Father Larry McDonnell, heads of Manzini Youth Care, Oxfam England found out about Eswatini, and a representative came to visit the project resulting in more orders. On this visit, the Oxfam representative brought some publications related to Fair Trade, and through this information, Eswatini Kitchen established a connection to Fair Trade Original in Holland.
In 1996 Fair Trade Original sent a delegation to visit Eswatini Kitchen, and they were impressed by what the small project had achieved thus far. They became good customers and a valuable and supportive development partner. They recognized that training was critical to develop the projectís international business capacity, and provided support in business management and capacity building. All the staff working at the factory was given tutoring in basic literacy, with those in key positions receiving computer training.
In 1998 15 women were already employed by Eswatini Kitchen, and the same year HACCP requirements were introduced, enabling the project to compete internationally responding to international food industry and export requirements.
Nowadays, Eswatini Kitchen is a fair trade producer of natural gourmet food, certified by WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) and COFTA (Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa) that exports its products to 15 international destinations including Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, complying with food safety standards, HACCP requirements and international regulations. Eswatini Kitchen has grown from a small cottage industry to a thriving business that is enhancing the lives of underprivileged communities by providing a fair and sustainable income for over 300 people in Swaziland., and devoting all its proceeds to the Manzini Youth Care initiatives, which support more than 2000 marginalized children and young people in the country.