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Up Close & Indego

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Our Blog

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Hardworking Mamas

This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the hardworking mamas behind the Indego Africa collection. Read below for a special interview with the children of some of our amazing artisan partners in Rwanda!

Originally posted on Glitter Guide.

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91% of the women we work with in Rwanda & Ghana are mothers. We couldn't be prouder to support these amazing ladies as they strive to provide for their families and create brighter futures for their children! That's why we interviewed the children of some of our amazing artisan partners in Rwanda. We wanted to hear directly from kids themselves about what they love the most about their moms. Who better to speak to the inspiring work ethic of these mamas than their own children?

What does your mom do for work?

“My mom is a weaver- and she’s really good at it! She doesn’t rest until she finishes the product, and that makes me feel proud.” – David, 14 (Mom: Weaver at Covanya cooperative)

“My mom likes weaving because she is able to buy clothes, food, and school materials for our family with the money she earns. She taught me how to weave and now we make baskets together.” – Emeline, 10 (Mom: Weaver at Twiyubake cooperative)

How does it make you feel to see your mom working?

“It makes me so happy to see my mom embroidering. She is a very hardworking woman. Our neighbors always say that I should be proud to be a boy of such a mother.” – Anastaze, 14 (Mom: Embroiderer at Ibaba cooperative)

“My mom loves me so much, and I am proud of her too. It makes me feel happy to see my mom working because I like to learn from her and weave too.” – Pheline, 10 (Mom: Weaver at Twiyubake cooperative)

What makes your mom happy?

“The one thing that I know makes my mom happy is to see her daughter happy. I like the way she cares for the whole family and lives in harmony with our entire neighborhood. I am proud to be the daughter of such a helpful and friendly woman.” – Madeleine, 15 (Mom: Embroiderer at Ibaba cooperative)

What do you love the most about your mom? What makes you proud of her?

“My mom is beautiful and caring, and both of those things make me proud. When I grow up I want to learn how to embroider just like my mom.” – Rosine, 12 (Mom: Embroiderer at Ibaba cooperative) 

“The most important thing that my mom has taught me is reading. She works hard and is preparing me to be a good teacher.” – Francine, 13 (Mom: Embroiderer at Ibaba cooperative) 

“The thing that makes me most proud of my mom is that she works hard and is able to pay the school fees for her children. I know other children who miss class because their parents can’t afford their school fees, but my mom takes care of me and gives me the opportunity to learn.” – Faustin, 13 (Mom: Weaver at Twiyubake cooperative)

“I am proud of my mom because she provides for our family and always teaches me new things. She is the one who has helped me attend school.” – Patrick, 15 (Mom: Weaver at Imirasire cooperative) 

“My mom is humble, helpful, beautiful and wise. She has taught me a lot of things, but learning how to read has been the most important.” – Justin, 10 (Mom: Weaver at Imirasire cooperative)

“I am proud of my mom because she works hard to be able to feed us and care for us at home, and that is inspiring. When I grow up, I will be a pilot. I want to become the first female aircraft pilot in my province.” – Benitha, 13 (Mom: Weaver at Imirasire cooperative)

“When it comes to my mom, there is nothing I am not proud of.” – Izeriyaremye, 11 (Mom: Embroiderer at Ibaba cooperative)

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At Indego Africa, we are inspired by our partners’ strength, their passion, their determination, and most of all their unconditional love for their children. Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms out there! 

This Mother’s Day, make a gift to honor your mom by empowering another. 

#indegodiaries, #collaboration, #inspiring, #community, #entrepreneurs

Briar Handmade x Indego Africa: An Interview with Rachel Goode

This April, Briar Handmade founder, entrepreneur, and designer, Rachel Goode, travelled to Rwanda to meet the hardworking women artisans behind Briar and Indego’s limited-edition line of hand-embroidered baby bonnets!

​Hand-embroidered with heart by our artisan partners at Ibaba Cooperative in Rwanda, these adorable bonnets were inspired by Indego and Briar's mutual appreciation for beautiful, handmade products.

Read our exclusive interview with Rachel below to hear more about the vision behind our collaboration and what meeting the women artisans of Ibaba meant to her and her family.

How did this partnership come about? What got you excited about the project?

Earlier last year, I was contacted by Indego Africa about a possible collaboration opportunity. After learning about Indego's mission and work, I was really compelled to make this partnership happen. I got really excited when I received some work samples and saw the impeccable handiwork of the artisans. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of the embroidery and knew how much customers would not only appreciate the product, but the story and people behind it. 

You brought your children and husband with you to Rwanda to meet these artisan. What was that like?

It was an adventure to say the least! As this collaboration began, we were on the heels of coming back from another trip with our kids and had decided that traveling with them was something we wanted to make priority. We loved that this trip would not only expose them to a completely different culture, but also show them how Briar was working globally with other women. Being a blonde, fair skinned family, we certainly turned a lot of heads while we were there! it was like we had been transported to another world; magical and beautiful in its own way. Our kids still talk about Africa every day.

What was the best part of your time in Rwanda?

Two things really stood out! First, it was pretty surreal to meet the women that were embroidering our fabric. It was so impactful to realize that what I had started three years ago out of my home had migrated across the world and was literally in the hands of women in a country that is rebuilding itself.

Also, spending time in the Akagera National Park was such a highlight for our family. It was hands-down the most fun part for the kids. You can;t beat walking along a walkway with monkeys at your fingertips, or seeing hippos playing in water 20 feet from you!

What surprised you about the artisans you met in Rwanda?

We visited several cooperatives, and the overwhelming tone in any conversation was, "Can you please bring us more work?" These women work long hours to support their families, and they truly appreciate having work sent their way! I was so surprised at how smitten they were with our kids. From hugs, to gifts, to picture-taking, their natural mothering tendencies really shined through. It was very sweet.

What's the best piece of advice you have for women entrepreneurs across the world?

Regardless of where you are in the world, having a community of women is essential. For me, it;s being in touch with other like-minded female entrepreneurs. We are so lucky in this day and age that we have social media to connect with other women; inspiration is right at our fingertips. As I've shared with other women starting businesses, it's impossible to do it on your own. Find the right people who can do what you do, but better.

What's next for Briar Handmade x Indego Africa?

I'd love to see us come out with more specialty embroidered bonnets in the future, but in the meantime, we have a brand new product making its debut this summer! We are so excited that a "Briar Basket" will be joining our Artisan collection: a hand-woven bloga (elephant grass) bassinet, perfect for little babes (wearing bonnets!). We are so excited!

Shop the collection now

#collaboration, #handmade, #indegokids

Briar Handmade x Indego Africa

We are so excited to launch a limited-edition line of hand-embroidered baby bonnets in collaboration with our friends at Briar Handmade!

These adorable bonnets are hand-embroidered by our artisan partners at Ibaba Cooperative in Rwanda and inspired by Indego and Briar's mutual appreciation for beautiful, handmade products. We love Briar's delicate take on stylish and functional baby bonnets and are thrilled to launch this heartfelt partnership!

Stay tuned for a special interview with Briar Handmade founder, entrepreneur, and designer, Rachel Goode, on the inspiration behind our collaboration and her trip to Rwanda to meet the hardworking women artisans of Ibaba!

Shop the collection now 

Save The Date!

Join us on July 19th for a special photography showcase event highlighting our new artisan refugee initiative in Rwanda!

Since completing our pilot project in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in December 2016, Indego continues to provide vocational weaving skills and business training to a group of 50 women refugees from Burundi currently living at the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda. You can read more about our refugee program and the incredible women we work with here.

The photography to be displayed is a creative project developed by Indego Africa that aims to provide visibility and perspective to the lives of these remarkable women. These photographs showcase the successes we've seen throughout our partnership and present a positive, creative, and empowering outlook for the future.

Now, more than ever, we believe it is necessary to come together to support refugee communities and ensure equal opportunities for women and artisans around the world. We hope you will join us! 

When: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 6:00-9:00pm

Where: Creative Chaos - 28 Jay St. Brooklyn, Dumbo, NY

Purchase tickets now

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #impact, #education

You Must Search to Find Beauty in Life

In the fall of 2016, Indego Africa launched a pilot project in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide vocational and business training to Burundian refugees in the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda. The goal of this project was to help female refugees improve their livelihoods by building the skills necessary to participate in the global artisan economy.

To assist our Rwanda Production Manager and Country Director, we hired three of our talented artisan partners from Imirasire, a weaving cooperative in Bugasera, to teach 50 refugee women onsite in the Mahama Camp how to weave baskets out of sweetgrass. (We love to see our long-time partners becoming mentors for other women!)

Since the project's launch, the women at Mahama have banded together to form their own cooperative: Akeza Kararonderwa Burundi, which translates to, you must search to find beauty in life. With vocational and business training from our production and education teams who travel to the camp each week, the women of Akeza Burundi are now handcrafting high-quality woven products for the Indego Africa collection and securing long-term economic benefits for themselves and their families. 

Adeline Ntirabampa, 50, is extremely proud of the education she's receiving from Indego Africa. "Indego's training has helped me come up with ideas that will be helpful for me to run my own business in the future," said Adeline. "For me, working with Indego is important and profitable because I'm not only gaining business knowledge and vocational skills, but also earning income at the same time."

Like many of the refugees living at Mahama, Aline Kezakabaganwa, 27, struggled to provide for her family when she first arrived at the camp. In Burundi, Aline was surrounded by political violence and concerned for the safety of her children. She found refuge at Mahama but was afraid she would be unable to earn enough money to support her family in the camp. "My life changed when I joined the cooperative," said Aline. "I like the spirit of teamwork at Akeza Burundi. Working with other women in a cooperative has helped me develop conflict resolution skills and work toward my goal of becoming financially independent."

Esperance Butoyi, 26, also echoes the importance and comfort of working with other women in the cooperative. "Working with other women at Akeza Burundi every day has helped me become more sociable and create lasting friendships," said Esperance. "I am proud of being a member of the cooperative because we avoid conflict, work as a team, and try to support each other."

Since working with Indego, Esperance has also been inspired to encourage others in the camp to come up with solutions to problems together as teams. “I want to be a part of Akeza Burundi cooperative forever,” said Esperance. “One thing I’ve learned is that we can achieve so much more together than we ever can alone.”

When it comes to her goals and dreams for the future, Esperance, like many of the women at Akeza Burundi, wants to provide for her children and even buy a piece of land for them when she returns to her home country of Burundi. Emelyne Chishayo, 31, also dreams of helping her children attend school, as well as running her own boutique business someday.

Like these women, Evelyne Musaniwabo, 32, says she won’t stop dreaming big. “My goal is to learn more basket designs from Indego and fulfill as many purchase orders as possible,” said Evelyne. “I hope to make enough money to educate all of my children and send them to school.”

While life at the camp continues to be challenging, the women of Akeza Burundi are full of courage and hope. “Since partnering with Indego, I have become more skilled, knowledgeable, and organized,” said Marguerite Iyamuremye, 64. “I am confident that my future will be bright.”

The women of Akeza Burundi are a truly remarkable embodiment of their cooperative’s namesake- unwavering in their search to find the good and beauty in life. We are so honored to be a part of their journey and believe now, more than ever, it is necessary to come together to support refugee communities and ensure equal opportunities for women and artisans around the world.

We couldn’t be more excited to grow this program and continue to provide valuable livelihood and leadership skills to the lives of these resilient women in the future!