As we reach the end of our second year, we have to appreciate and thank our earliest business partners – African Women and Youth Initiative and Global Borders of Kenya, and Bahari Deco Crafts of Tanzania.
They have been amazing to work with and we love them! They are constantly innovating, so keep looking out for their new work.
As for What’s New, we are grateful to add to the fold our newest partners – Le Look Bags, a fantastic, woman-owned franchise based in Lagos that is in full swing after 31 years.
We also join with a small collective of Guyanese women, Hannah’s Leather & Craft of Georgetown, Guyana. Their line brings our first 100% leather – including “exotic” South American Caiman skins** – to the collection.
Any animal skins** in the Kupendiza collection are a byproduct of food production. Locally, the skins are a waste product. The animals were not sacrificed to make bags.
We believe Fair Trade is the only way to do business. We trade directly with the business women who supply our beautiful products.
Karen James Cody, Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer
* Kupendiza is a play on the Swahili word "kupendeza:" To enchant.
AWYI BATTLES HIV/AIDS WITH ACTION: FOUNDS THE FUTURE AFRICAN LEADERS PROJECT
Global Bridges was launched in May 2015 by a group of women in Nandi, Kenya who came together to seek sustainable strategies for alleviating poverty amongst low income women and youth in their region.
The project's principal goal in 2016 is to set up to manufacture (reusable) feminine products - thereby keeping more girls in school.
Some 65% of Kenyan women cannot afford disposable feminine products. In too many places, girls lose a week of school each month as a result.
Five days of school missed each month = 60 missed days - or two entire months - per year! That simply won't do.
Article 28 of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes "the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity." Let's keep our girls in school!
This project will get safe, affordable, convenient, appropriate - not to mention sustainable and eco-friendly - feminine products into the hands of millions. This can have far-reaching implications for the human rights--as well as the sexual and reproductive freedom, health, and well being--of women and girls in Kenya and other developing countries.
Shambala Bags is a component of Global Bridges that focuses on hand craft skills development, production, and marketing of beaded bags. The project incorporates many different women from the region; its main objective being to ensure the beaders a living wage.
BAHARI DECO CRAFTS & THE MESSAGES OF KANGA
Bahari Deco Crafts is a community of seamstresses that utilize kangas, kitenge, and other traditional East African textiles for individually designed, hand-sewn fashion accessories. Most kangas have a Swahili inscription embedded in the design that allows women to communicate with neighbors, sweethearts, and family through what they wear.
The cloth, designed and screen printed in Tanzania, is a link to the traditions of East Africa. Founded by Mariam Mohamed, a social entrepreneur from a family of artists, Bahari Deco Crafts works to sustain families through cooperative entrepreneurship and the equitable sharing of profits.
30 YEARS AND COUNTING: LE LOOK NIGERIA, LTD.
Chinwe Ezenwa founded Le Look 31 years ago to create opportunity for those with barriers to employment in her community, starting with a brother who is hearing-impaired. Over the years the company has transformed the lives of many.
First-class production facilities today support a design house that has been recognized among Nigeria's top companies.
The focus on traditional textiles remains one of the distinctive features of Le Look handbags, bags, backpacks, and messenger bags.
HANNAH'S LEATHER & CRAFT
Marsha started Hannah's Leather & Craft to train a group of young women in her Muslim community who had few skills and few prospects. It began as a mentoring relationship. The women who showed an affinity for the work have stayed. New women have joined.
"They end up on the streets and in difficult situations," Marsha says. "I decided we had to seek for what we could do. We can do good for ourselves as women."
It took a couple of years to develop her own skills, with the help of her own mentor, who recognized her talent and employed her for 9 months to teach her the basics. When she left, with a promise not to compete, she was also able to leave her job as an assistant secretary for a government agency to work full time with her hands. Now she passes on the blessing.
The leather bags from Hannah's Leather & Craft are every inch hand-made. Even the zippers are hand-stitched in. Many of the bags have stamped leather patterns. All are Marsha's designs. The manner of production and the variation in color, dyes, and textures means no two bags will be exactly the same.
Hannah's also offers sandals and other leather products. Their Caiman-skin bags are repurposing what has become a waste product in Guyana - the "alligator" skins left over as a by-product of food production. They were readily available and have an "exotic" texture that can be hard to put your finger on - if you're not familiar with South American reptiles!
Check out the ladies' work at Kupendiza.com