Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The story of the women of Abasangiye is at once heartbreaking and uplifting. All members of the eastern regional branch of AVEGA Agahozo (Association of Widows of the Genocide), the women of Abasangiye suffered through some of the worst of the horrifying realities of the 1994 Genocide; many were chased, beaten, raped, infected with HIV/AIDS, and had their husbands, children, or other loved ones taken from them. At the onset of their organization, the women of Abasangiye had no formal association or cooperative membership, no bank accounts, no places to work, no equipment and no specialized training.
But the resilience and tenacity of these extraordinary women runs even deeper than anyone could have ever imagined! Having embarked on an ambitious regimen of training programs in financial management, literacy (English and Kinyarwanda), and sewing in August, the women of Abasangiye are leaping and bounding along an educational path from talented artisans to savvy businesswomen. In the words of their English literacy instructor, Generation Rwanda scholar Eugene Nteziyaremye, “the women are motivated…they didn’t want to stop asking questions…they want to learn more!”
What is particularly poignant and moving is that the women, at their own insistence and with the help of our dynamic Rwanda Program Coordinator Sarah Dunigan, are holding sessions where they each tell their stories to one another. Storytelling carries a tremendous power to heal, strengthen, and unify through giving voice and bearing witness and this storytelling reminds us how powerful the possibilities for community are at a place like Abasangiye. As Sarah aptly put it, “not only are cooperatives a place where talented artisans gather, they’re also a very strong and special support group where the women truly rely on each other for emotional support.”
What originated as a four-month initial partnership has blossomed into so much more. With the continuing generous support of Foundation Rwanda and SURF, we are moving full speed ahead with our core training programs at Abasangiye while simultaneously ramping up our assistance with internal cooperative governance and export market-readiness. In addition, just this month, we placed our first order with Abasangiye for a holiday line of Indego Africa-designed textile ball ornaments.
Another remarkable chapter in the Indego Africa story. To the women of Abasangiye!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
We at Indego Africa are, to paraphrase the late Hunter S. Thompson, riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. Momentum. If you don’t already feel it, you should.
This fall has already borne witness to some electrifying developments at Indego Africa – retail partnerships with Polo Ralph Lauren, Anthropologie, and Nicole Miller, Emelienne’s acceptance to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative, an HBS Case Study, and media coverage in the New York Times, People StyleWatch, and InStyle. Now we are looking to you, our vibrant and diverse support base, as we turn our attention squarely to an interactive, grass roots year-end giving campaign called Project X.
Project X began with six key outcome-based projects that correspond with identified areas of organizational need and/or potential growth. Approached with these proposed key projects, artisan women at our partner co-ops, Cocoki and Covanya, carefully weighed the immediate importance of each and selected three finalists. Now it is up to you to vote (VOTE HERE) to determine which proposed key project will form the basis of our $40,000 year-end giving campaign.
Project X is designed to send a clear message of meaningful collaboration and co-investment among our current support base, certain new donor/investors, and our artisan women partners in determining Indego Africa’s organizational priorities. We will publicize updates and progress reports and request your guidance in augmenting participation in this exciting funding initiative.
Voting closes on Oct. 25th at 5:00 p.m. EST. Please vote on your Project X now (VOTE HERE), spread the word to friends and family, and help us harness this considerable momentum to drive forward sustainable, long-term solutions to systemic poverty in Africa.
Until we speak again,
Monday, October 18, 2010
Home Grown Hope:
Small Steps to Ending Poverty
The Deseret News
Oct. 17, 2010
As I think of our domestic situation on this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I recognize that we are a deeply fortunate people. For all the problems and concerns we face in our daily lives, for all of our worries over jobs, the housing market and our children's future, we are largely spared worry over abject poverty. Our communities certainly include poor people, but we have few who are abjectly poor.
Look around the world, though, and you'll find that the problems of abject poverty are still very real. Hundreds of millions of people are living on just over a dollar a day. Is it realistic to imagine that there's a way — to use a popular slogan — to "make poverty history" for these people? Or is poverty one of those intractable human conditions, as inevitable as taxes and death?
Ten years ago, government leaders met at the United Nations and pledged, among other things, to cut the proportion of people living on a dollar a day in half by 2015. This is the first of eight "Millennium Development Goals," and the good news is that progress has been made reducing poverty, particularly in eastern and southeastern Asia.
But poverty rates remain stubbornly high in sub-Saharan Africa. Why is Africa lagging? An important part of the answer is that African governments make it difficult for millions of small-scale African entrepreneurs to create, invest in and grow their businesses. Their personal safety is not ensured, and they can't always count on keeping what they earn. And that's a problem because these hardworking men and women are the real key to poverty alleviation in Africa. Here are just two examples...
Read the rest, including a discussion of Indego Africa's very own superstar partner artisan, Emelienne Nyirumana: HERE.
Friday, October 1, 2010
- Deirdre McGuigan, Indego Africa Deputy General Counsel