While we have the security of our freedom and most have a structure of life that enables the necessities for a promising lifestyle, it is a much different story for most around the world. In many developing countries genocide, war, lack of education and much more have left a struggling population. Within this population, women have been a target for sex trafficking, rape and are stripped of any human rights which can lead to a most devastating future.
When do we make it our social responsibility to help and lend a helping hand? My favorite quote by Audrey Hepburn (who was also a UNICEF ambassador) “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
In this blog I wanted to bring attention to Indego Africa which is an award-winning, design-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit social enterprise that lifts women-owned businesses in Rwanda toward sustainable economic independence through access to markets and education.
- Indego Africa partners with for-profit cooperatives of more than 400 women artisans in Rwanda and exports, markets, and sells their jewelry, accessories, and home decor(a) on its online store, (b) to more than 80 retail stores across the U.S. and Europe, and (c) at major brands like J.Crew and Nicole Miller through cutting-edge design collaborations.
- Indego Africa then pools its profits from sales with donations to fund training programs – developed internally from the ground up – for the same women in management and entrepreneurship, literacy,technology, and health.
- Indego Africa hires top Rwandan university students from socially-vulnerable backgrounds to administer its training programs.
- Indego Africa has offices in New York City and Rwanda and is managed by a lean and diverse team with extensive experience in development, business, design, law, commerce, fashion, and Africa.
- Indego Africa is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation and the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.
Indego Africa provides opportunities for women in difficult circumstances to not only meet their families’ basic needs, but also acquire skills that enhance long-term earning potential. Indego Africa’s mission is to help each artisan cooperative achieve the following:
WOMEN GENERATING SUSTAINABLE INCOME. Women consistently earn more than $2 per day through their own initiative and oversee households that are entirely free of hunger, inadequate housing, and school absenteeism.
WOMEN LEVERAGING VALUABLE LONG-TERM SKILLS. Women deploy new high-value skills to earn supplemental income in their own community – whether at a cooperative, another employer, or their own business.
WOMEN RUNNING PROFITABLE EXPORT BUSINESSES. Women manage cooperatives that are fiscally responsible, effective in product design and delivery, and dynamic contributors to the community – all while engaging the global export market on their own terms.
WOMEN FEELING HOPEFUL AND CONFIDENT. Women translate their experiences of financial success and increased productivity into a lasting sense of self-worth and pride, knowing that anything can be accomplished by working together with others and relying on their own strength.
These women are not Indego Africa’s artisans and they are not Indego Africa’s employees. They are Indego Africa’s business partners, and with access to export markets and education, they are lifting themselves and their communities out of poverty.
You are able to shop on their website, donate if you are interested or invest in these artisans. Their stories are remarkable and will instill a different meaning of strength in your heart.