In this article we describe an initiative from the local wool growing industry to integrate small-scale farmers in the wool chain in the Transkei area, one of the former homelands of South Africa. These communities are poor and sustain their livelihoods from diverse income sources, primarily pensions and remittances; therefore income-generating activities are needed to alleviate poverty. In this light, agriculture remains an important activity for many of the rural poor in former homelands to generate food and cash. Small-scale farmers, however, face many challenges, such as inadequate access to technology, credit, land and markets. The local associations are a mechanism for collective access to technology, post-harvest handling and marketing, and are supported by a development initiative from the National Woolgrowers' Association (NWGA). The aim of this research note is to discuss our research into the difficulties woolgrowers in the Transkei area encounter in their production and market environment and to provide insights into how collective action by farmers' associations can contribute to access the most basic chain links.