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#FirstFriends: Emelienne Nyiramana

We sat down with some of our earliest artisan partners to find out what education means to them and why they are so passionate about their work with Indego!

Emelienne Nyiramana
Founder of Cocoki Cooperative & current Indego Africa Education Associate
Emelienne Nyiramana is one of Indego Africa’s first artisan partners (yes, from way back in 2007!), the founder of Cocoki Cooperative, and an inspiring testament to the power of education. Ten years ago, Emelienne was struggling to lift herself and her family out of poverty, but today - thanks to education and determination - Emelienne is a full-time Indego Africa staff member, a Teaching Associate at our Leadership Academy, and an influential mentor and leader in communities across Rwanda. 


When I was first introduced to Indego’s mission to empower women through education programs and business training, I was really interested. I wanted to partner with Indego to fulfill that mission for myself and other Rwandan women in my community. 

My life has changed a lot since working with Indego. Ten years ago, I had no education, but since 2007, I’ve founded Cocoki Cooperative and learned how to manage a business, I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative and won the Peace Through Business competition, and I passed Rwanda’s national examination to earn my Senior 6 Certificate which allowed me to continue attending school at the university level.

One of my ongoing professional goals is to mentor other women and help people in my community run their businesses and earn an education. I am very proud to say that several women I have mentored over the past few years have now started their own businesses, decided to go back to school, and continued earning income and working at their cooperatives- just like me!

My personal goals for the future have a lot to do with my education. Something I worked really hard for in the past was completing my secondary school education. I not only achieved that goal but am now in my first year of college and planning on earning a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Cooperative Management. Indego Africa has been incredibly supportive over the years and has helped me achieve my goals!

My partnership with Indego Africa has impacted my life in numerous ways. In terms of professional development, I have grown so much. Since I began working at a cooperative in 2007, I have developed the skills and ability to work for an international NGO- which is an opportunity I would have never received if it wasn’t for my partnership with Indego!

I am also continually learning from the work I do and it feels good to know that other people are learning from me. Since working with Indego, I started having a more open mind and thinking outside the box. I now tell the women I mentor that anything is possible if you have a purpose and goals to achieve.

Before partnering with Indego, it was difficult to earn even $1 a day. I was entirely dependent on my husband, but now I am financially independent and a full-time Indego Africa employee! One of my most memorable moments was when I signed that employee contract. I am now able to pay my own school tuition fees and create more goals for myself in the future. I still have a long journey ahead of me but I move forward every day and look to the future with confidence.

One of the things I enjoy the most about my job with Indego is standing in front of trainees and sharing my experiences with them. Most of them have become motivated to pursue new job opportunities and go back to school. Some of them continue to stay in touch even after the class to ask for advice that might help them accomplish the kind of success I have earned over the past years. I am proud to be a part of Indego’s Business Training programs because even when I am teaching, I am always learning.

In the future, I am most looking forward to completing my degree and having all of my family members earn an education. This is the biggest personal goal I hope to achieve. Indego Africa helps women help their families and I believe someday, this may pull a huge part of our world out of poverty.

World Refugee Day

Today, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees.

The opportunity to work and earn a living is one of the most effective ways refugees can rebuild their lives in dignity and peace.

Indego Africa is proud to stand #WithRefugees by helping women at the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda improve their livelihoods and participate in the global artisan economy.

“My life has changed since moving to the camp. When I was in Burundi, there was no hope for tomorrow, but today, I feel safe. Indego has helped me earn income so I am able to feed my family. We are really grateful for that.”

-Annonciatha Mukamutara

In the fall of 2016, Indego Africa launched a pilot project in collaboration with UNHCR to provide vocational and business training to a group of 50 Burundian refugees who have since banded together to form their own cooperative: Akeza Karigura. 

With vocational and business training from our production and education teams who travel to the camp each week, the women of Akeza Karigura are now handcrafting high-quality woven products for the Indego Africa collection and securing long-term economic benefits for themselves and their families.

“Working with Indego is valuable because I’m learning business and vocational skills, and earning income all at the same time. This has helped me generate new ideas that will help me run my own business in the future.”

-Adeline Ntirabampa

To celebrate and provide visibility to the lives of the remarkable women we partner with at Mahama, Indego Africa is hosting a special gallery event. The photographs on display will showcase the successes we’ve seen throughout our partnership and present a positive, creative, and empowering outlook for the future.

Please join us as we continue to support refugee communities and ensure equal opportunities for women and artisans around the world!

When: Wednesday, July 19th | 6:00-10:00 pm

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

Purchase Tickets Here

Sample Sale!

Hey NYC! Join us on Wednesday, June 14th and Thursday, June 15th for a special, two-day sample sale! Swing by and shop one-of-a-kind baskets, home decor, and accessories.

#collaboration, #handmade, #funwithfriends

Eskayel x Indego Africa

We’ve teamed up with Brooklyn-based textile company, Eskayel, to launch a limited-edition collaboration of baskets and bowls!

These floor baskets and bowls are handmade by our amazing artisan partners in Rwanda using up-cycled Eskayel fabric remnants.

Shop the collection now!