Standard Shipping On Us! Use code SHIPPLEASE SHOP NOW

Donate
X

Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #entrepreneurs, #inspiringwomen

Indego’s Inspiring Women: Josepha Mujawayezu

In Rwanda and Ghana, our partners are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, getting creative, and overcoming challenges to start their own businesses. We wanted to hear more from these inspiring women about what entrepreneurship means to them and why they do what they do. In the interview that follows, these trailblazing women share inside stories about their businesses (and the growing pains that come with them)—about achieving work-life balance, navigating stumbling blocks, building future goals, and finding inspiration. They also share empowering advice for other women—any age and anywhere—who are looking to make their dreams happen.

Josepha Mujawayezu

Founder of Ngwinukorebushoke Cooperative

Rulindo, Rwanda 

Mother of seven

49 years old

“Being empowered to me means having the ability to provide for my family and myself without having to ask my husband.” 

__________

Describe how you first came together with other women to start producing products. When was it and how did you get the idea? How did you recruit other women to join you?

I used to work alone, teaching young girls including my own daughters how to weave until other women got interested in what I was doing and approached me to teach them as well because they wanted a way to earn money. There are now 10 women. 

What is your favorite part about working alongside other women every day?

My favorite part is that I am able to continue teaching them new techniques and skills.

Do you feel that there are good opportunities in Rwanda for women? 

Yes, we have great leaders that continue to uphold and encourage women to better themselves. I feel that in my craft, women are given the opportunity to showcase and sell what we make through various expositions that take place every year. 

What is the hardest part about being a working mom and why do you do it? 

The hardest thing is having to leave my children when I go out to search for materials. Sometimes I go as far as Uganda because they are not always available here. I do it because I am their mother and it is my duty to care for them. This is my means of providing for them and their futures. 

What does it mean to be an empowered woman? 

Being empowered to me means having the ability to provide for my family and myself without having to ask my husband. I earn an income and therefore I can pay my children’s school fees, feed them, clothe them and even afford health insurance. 

What brings you joy these days?

I used to try and sell my products on the road, which is not allowed and therefore I would often get chased around by police and sometimes even arrested. I am happy now because I work from home and sell my products to Indego Africa. I do not have to hustle on the streets every day worrying about police. 

What are your goals for the future? 

I want to buy a house that is close to the road because right now my house is very far. I also want to continue paying my children’s fees until they are able to finish their university studies. 

#bagladies, #ss17

Calling All #Bagladies

Spring is just around the corner and if you're anything like us, you're beach-ready and bag-obsessed. See more hand woven palm and banana leaf pieces from our Spring/Summer 2017 collection below.

#indegodiaries, #artisans, #conversationswith, #inspiring, #impact, #inspiringwomen

Indego’s Inspiring Women: Mavis Adongo

In Rwanda and Ghana, our partners are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, getting creative, and overcoming challenges to start their own businesses. We wanted to hear more from these inspiring women about what entrepreneurship means to them and why they do what they do. In the interview that follows, these trailblazing women share inside stories about their businesses (and the growing pains that come with them)—about achieving work-life balance, navigating stumbling blocks, building future goals, and finding inspiration. They also share empowering advice for other women—any age and anywhere—who are looking to make their dreams happen.

Mavis Adongo

Founder of a bolga basket weaving cooperative

Kumasi, Ghana

Mother of three

29 years old

"To be a good leader, extreme patience is required."

__________

Why were you interested in starting a bolga cooperative? What does bolga weaving mean to you? 

Bolga basket weaving is the first trade I studied growing up. I love to make baskets and watch people admire, purchase and use them. It has always been my passion to start up a group focused on making beautiful and colorful bolga baskets for sale.

How does it feel to be a leader of your bolga cooperative? 

What do you think it means to be a good leader? I am extremely happy to be taking the lead in establishing a bolga basket cooperative in Kumasi. I believe a good leader has the interests of his or her co-workers at heart and truly cares about the welfare of all members both personally and professionally. To be a good leader, extreme patience is required. People come from varying backgrounds, thus having patience as a leader can help you deal and work effectively with these people in order to succeed and enable the business thrive.

Do you like partnering with Indego Africa? If so, why? 

Indego Africa has been a godsend to me. They love me and are willing to help me show off my skills. They discovered me, and have showed that they love me. I pray all the time that people buy stuff from Indego Africa so that I can have many orders.

Have you faced any challenges as an entrepreneur and a mother of three? 

Children get sick sometimes and as a working mother when they do get sick it is one of the worst experiences ever. I need to stay at home and care for my children, yet I still need to work and keep my job. 

There are times when I have struggled with caring for my kids. There was a time when my husband lost his job, I had to pay off a bank loan and our rent was due. We really had a hard time. 

Starting a bolga cooperative in Kumasi can help us make some money to support our families. With more hands on deck, we can improve on our designs, reach deadlines and collect large orders.

What are your dreams for your children’s future? 

I want them to have an education. With an education, they can get good jobs and become leaders in society. They will be able to care for me when I am old.

I know that one day I will not be here with them, so I want them to have formal education because I know they can survive in this world if they do. 

#artisans, #impact, #community, #education, #programs, #vocationaltraining

Sexual Health Education for Young Women in Rwanda

75% of adolescents who live with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are girls. Research by the U.N. shows that social, cultural, and economic factors—including gender inequality, gender-based violence, lack of financial independence, and lack of access to sexual education—can make young women especially vulnerable.

Last year, we at Indego Africa expanded our work with artisans in Rwanda to include a new focus on empowering youth. We launched a Vocational Training program to help young, unemployed women in rural Rwanda—a highly vulnerable population—build careers in the artisan sector through technical training and business education.

The goal of this program was to help young women gain critically-needed employment opportunities and earn sustainable income. However, after the program started, we discovered another critical need: sexual health education. 

While a group of Vocational Trainees were learning to sew at the

Abasangiye Cooperative in Rwanda, they overheard older members of the cooperative talking about their HIV treatment. The young women became worried that they could be infected through pin pricks while sewing and immediately raised their concerns with our Education Manager in Rwanda. 

Through conversations between our Rwanda team and the Vocational

Trainees, we recognized that these young women needed training on HIV prevention and transmission, as well as sexual health education more broadly. They were concerned about their health, specifically about HIV/AIDS, but did not have sufficient information about how to protect themselves.

We firmly believe that women and girls around the world deserve

access to relevant, comprehensive sexual health education in order to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health. According to UN AIDS, in sub-Saharan Africa only 28% of young women report that they have sufficient knowledge about how to protect themselves from HIV. 

Further,

in 2015, 7.3% of adolescent girls in Rwanda experienced a teenage pregnancy (up 20% from 2010), a statistic driven by a lack of knowledge about reproductive health, as well as access to health services.

To

address these critical knowledge gaps, we set up Sexual Health Training workshops for all of the young women participating in our Vocational Training

program and invited our older artisan partners to join as well. The course, taught by an experienced female Rwandan health trainer, focused on HIV/AIDS and STI transmission, prevention, and symptoms, but also incorporated lessons on gender-based violence and reproductive health and care. 

The instructor provided the young women with guidance about how to discuss sexual health with partners—conversations which can be challenging, especially when unequal gender roles or financial dependence come into play—and also encouraged them to be proactive about “knowing their status” through regular check ups and blood tests.

For

some of the students, the workshop was the first time they had ever learned about sexual health in an educational setting. Others had received sexual health education before, but often in less detail. The workshop gave them an opportunity to learn about these topics in a safe, positive environment and to ask as many questions as they needed. Further, for the older women, the training gave them important guidance on how to talk with their children about these issues.

“It’s

so important that we get this training while we are young,” a 23-year-old workshop participant, Jennifer, said. “The youth are the ones who have a poor understanding about sexual relations here in Rwanda, especial girls of my age. Many get pregnant or get HIV because they do not have this information.”

Another positive (and

heartwarming!) outcome of the training was that it helped sensitize the participants to the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS and the need for empathy. One 19-year-old woman, Liliane, said: 

The

most important thing I learned is to take care of HIV/AIDS positive people. We should never exclude them.” 

As we strive to create a

world in which young women and girls can reach their full potential, it is crucial that they have access to information about their health. Moving forward, we are committed to continuing our Sexual Health Training program for young women and expanding the curriculum to cover reproductive health, a topic which several of the participants asked for. In our mission to achieve gender equality and empower women knowledge is a powerful, and necessary, first step.  

#artisans, #indegodiaries, #inspiring, #bossladies, #inspiringwomen

Indego’s Inspiring Women

In Rwanda and Ghana, our partners are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, getting creative, and overcoming challenges to start their own businesses. We wanted to hear more from these inspiring women about what entrepreneurship means to them and why they do what they do. In the interview that follow, these trailblazing women share inside stories about their businesses (and the growing pains that come with them)—about achieving work-life balance, navigating stumbling blocks, building future goals, and finding inspiration. They also share empowering advice for other women—any age and anywhere—who are looking to make their dreams happen.

Claudette Mukeshimana 

Vocational Training Graduate

Founder of Gahembe Cooperative

Bugasera, Rwanda

25 years old

“Determination and a strong spirit can take you wherever you want to go.” 

____________________

How does it feel to start your own business and become an entrepreneur?

Indego trained me to be an entrepreneur. Before I had nothing, but now, I know how to save and manage a business. This job has made me an open-minded person. Sometimes you might struggle to make a product or make a mistake on an order, but you continue to work. I used to think that I would be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t think that I would be an artisan. Indego’s Vocational Training program helped me so much because at the end I was confident and capable of doing anything.

What does empowerment mean to you? 

To me, empowerment is more than earning money. It is building knowledge and skills that will help you in your life. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in starting a new business?

Do what you love, what you are passionate about. Before I started this business, I had nothing. Some of my friends in the village laughed at me. But I decided to borrow money and start my business and today everything is good. I did that because I love this work. It is valuable. Determination and a strong spirit can take you wherever you want to go. 

I have started to advise other youth. Today, I am no longer a job-seeker, and my advice to them is to start their own businesses and do what they love. Where there is a will, there is a means. They should use their full potentials and turn their dreams into reality because everything is possible with a willing heart.

Are there any women you look up to or admire? If so, who and why? How have they influenced you?

Yes, I have some women. There is a woman who always inspired me; she is called Claudine. I knew her from many years ago. She started her business early, so I decided to follow her path. She built a house for her family, she has livestock and she has a very good marriage. She has a well-decorated shop, and I am sure I can do that as well. If she did that, why can’t I do that too? Moreover, the president of Covanya Cooperative, where I trained, inspired me so much as she gave me many examples of what she achieved from being an artisan. She has animals and built a house as well. I have a number of inspirations.

What are your goals for the future?

My first goal is to continue to be a member of the Gahembe Co-op. My ultimate goal is to create my own shop of artisanal materials. Another thing I want to do is to teach the rest of the youth what I have learned. What I do is valuable, and I want to share it with others.