When I was in my early twenties I spent six months traveling through the African continent on a trip that would shape me in countless ways. The previous year and a half had been consumed working on a television series in Boston called “Against The Law”, which was Fox’s first foray into a dramatic T.V. series starring Michael O’Keefe. I had managed to save most of my earnings working 12 hour days during six day work weeks on the show, so when it was cancelled, instead of deciding to do something practical, like put it towards a car, I decided that I wanted to use that money to go to Africa. When I began to research my trip I realized that I could not pick just one region, such as the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania, or the Okavango delta, because it would be to miss out on so much else. I finally found a trip that satisfied my budget and my desire to get a good glimpse of the rich and varied landscapes, and cultures of the continent. It was an overland trip that would take me through Morocco and the Sahara desert, the plains filled with big game, into the Jungles to track Gorillas. We went to the Ngorongoro crater, the Okavango Delta, Zanzibar, the salt pans, and through countless villages along the way. The trip was run by a company out of London called Encounter Overland, and we drove through Africa in an old revamped Bedford army truck, shopped at local markets, cooked our meals over the fires we would build, and camped in tents along the way. All of my essentials fit into a 2×4 backpack as I set out on my adventure. I have been an Africaphile ever since, the people, the cultures, music,varying landscapes, art, patterns and fabrics, all touched my soul in a way that is difficult to articulate.
“When you see the skies of Africa, they are so huge and you almost look into the eye of God. I can’t explain it, there’s something that enters your soul.”- Nejma Beard in an interview by Alec Baldwin on wnyc radio
Since my trip, all things African have a special place in my heart and I also feel passionate about promoting social enterprise companies, so I was thrilled when I was invited by The Mission List to check out some of the products from Indego Africa. Indego Africa provides training, education, and access to a global online market to Rwandan women artisans who create beautiful jewelry, housewares, and accessories. It provides opportunities for women so they are able to provide the basic necessities for their families and acquire a skill that will lend to sustainable income.
WHAT IS INDEGO AFRICA?
- Indego Africa 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. - From the Indigo Africa website
My love of Africa is apparent in our home as well, in treasures that I brought back, and influences in our decorating style. The Indego Africa online catalog is full of the type of textured, colorful, and richly designed clothing, accessories and home goods that I love. Although I will most certainly go back for more (I’m looking at you batik top!) since we are in the process of decorating our home I selected an item from the housewares selection. I chose a striking black and white woven bowl, and because I love the fabrics so much, I added a set of gorgeous handmade cards each with a different patterned fabric sewn on to my order. I was surprised at how quickly my order arrived after it was placed. The bowl is amazing, and I will have a hard time actually parting with the note cards, so if you get one you know you are really special! I am so excited to share this site with friends, and to have found a great new source for meaningful gifts that give back! To find out more about Indego Africa, the programs they offer, the impact they are having, and that you can contribute to, you can visit their website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and enjoy the eye candy on Pinterest.
*I received a $75.00 Redeemable Gift Code to shop on the Indego Africa site for the purpose of this review. As always all of the opinions expressed in this post are my own and not swayed by outside influences. Indego Africa truly rocks.