Imbali Visual Literacy Project

Who Are We?

Founded in 1988, the Imbali Visual Literacy Project is a non-profit organisation that provides crafts training and skills development to youth and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. This leads to job creation and economic empowerment for these individuals. In addition, we facilitate the ongoing development of creative arts teachers, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Imbali is one of the only crafts training providers registered with the CATHS SETA and offering accredited, subsidised training. We are based in Newtown (Johannesburg), but work throughout Gauteng and in a number of other South African provinces.


To change people’s lives through arts education and training.


Imbali is committed to achieving and maintaining a leadership role in the arts, crafts and design education and training sector by upholding high standards of training and professional teacher development, and emphasising creativity and innovation in everything we do.

What We Do

Imbali runs full- and part-time programmes, short courses and special projects in a range of creative arts and crafts fields. We have a proven track record of very high training standards – a large percentage of our graduates go on to forge successful careers in the creative industries. From the outset of their training, participants can generate income by selling their products through the Imbali Shop.

Our flagship programme is a three-year crafts training course, in which participants develop and hone their craft-making, design and production skills, along with business and marketing skills. This leads to independent and successful small business units for the production of contemporary and original South African craft. There is a dire need for training and skills development towards income generation and self-employment in South Africa. Jobs within the formal sector are limited, so the more young people empowered to create their own small businesses, the better.

Imbali is a not-for-profit organisation providing training to severely disadvantaged individuals, so we depend on funding for most of our activities.

History Of Imbali Visual Literacy

The Imbali Visual Literacy Project was founded as a project of Women for Peace in 1988, when a children’s national art competition showed that children with little or no access to art at school demonstrated extremely poor perceptual skills. The project attempted to address this lack of basic visual literacy by developing strategies for training teachers with no arts backgrounds and working in poorly resourced schools. In 2018, this culminated in the publication of the Imbali Artbooks, ‘Adventuring into Art’ – a series of eight books designed to provide art teachers with carefully structured and supported artmaking and looking activities, drawn from our 30 years of experience.

The arts now form part of the South African curriculum, thanks to educational reforms post 1994. However, most teachers assigned to teach creative art still have no formal arts training. Imbali therefore partners with provincial education departments to train art teachers in using the Imbali Artbooks, supported by funding from government, corporate and private donors.  Teachers attend workshops and receive a set of the books for their school. Since 2019, we have been rolling out books and workshops to all nine provinces of South Africa.

In the late 1990s, the need for training for young people in skills towards income generation became urgent, and so the Imbali Crafts Training Programme was born. This has grown to become a three-year, fully accredited vocational training programme, focusing predominantly on textiles and ceramics. The programme develops participants into independent entrepreneurs, able to develop and design their own products and start their own crafts enterprises.

Imbali also runs shorter workshops and training programmes on request. These are tailored to meet the needs of the students.

Organisational Structure

  • Imbali is overseen by a board of highly experienced and passionate individuals. As Imbali is an NPO, all board positions are unpaid and voluntary.
  • The director oversees the organisation’s daily operations and creative direction, and identifies new opportunities and partnerships.
  • The project manager oversees all training and programmes, the development of written materials, and the organisation’s accreditation status.
  • A team of excellent facilitators (full and part-time) teach a range of specialist skills ranging across creative art, craft and business, as well as assisting with special projects and incubator work.
  • Imbali also brings in a number of industry professionals who provide input on the development of new courses, programmes and products.

Our organisational status

Imbali is a registered South African non-profit organisation (063-352-NPO) and a registered public benefit organisation (PBO930031775) with Section 18A tax-exempt status.

Our accreditation

  • An accredited training provider with the CATHS Seta (613/P/000245/2014) registered 01/06/2007
  • A Registered Vendor – Gauteng Shared Services Centre
  • Registered on the Central Supplier Data Base, supplier number: MAAA0823887