December 2017
Happy Holidays! Scroll below to find a few inspiring stories for the new year.
Above Indego Africa weavers display U.S.-bound baskets thanks to social entrepreneurs, the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and partners. Read more below.
Photo credit: Brittany Barb, Marketing & Brand Manager for Indego Africa
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indegoIndego Africa brings hope to women across Rwanda
During the 11 years the Mitro family spent living in Africa, they were struck by the
Indego Africa partner artisans have realized substantial gains over the  past 10 years. 
The number of artisans that Indego works with has expanded from below 100 in 2008 to more than 1000 in 2017.
1. 98% of Indego's partners in Rwanda and 82% of their partners in Ghana have health insurance for their entire families. 
2. 90% of Indego's partners in Ghana and 56% of their partners in Rwanda have electricity. 
3. 60% of Indego's partners in Rwanda and 50% of their partners in Ghana have access to clean water in their homes. In 2016, only 19% of their partners had access to clean water in their homes. That's over a 200% increase from last year.
4. 100% of Indego's partners in Ghana and 90% of their partners in Rwanda can afford to send all or most of their children to school. 

incredible talent and entrepreneurial spirit of female artisans. They were also struck by a glaring problem: these women, without access to markets to sell their goods or the education needed to run their businesses, were living in poverty with few ways out. A solution?  Father and son duo Tom and Matt Mitro founded Indego Africa in 2007.

For the past 10 years Indego Africa has brought hope to over 1,000 women and 33 artisan groups across Rwanda and Ghana.  In 2010 the company secured its first order with Ralph Lauren and in 2014 launched the Leadership Academy in Rwanda.  

Olive Mukabuzizi a member of the Covanya Cooperative in Rwanda that partners with Indego said, "Before Indego, I felt like a forgotten person, but now I feel like I am useful to society because I can produce something. I am no longer a consumer; I can contribute."

On the 10th Anniversary of Indego Africa Deirdre King, Creative Director reflects on the support USAID East Africa has provided to Indego Africa throughout the years: 

"The support of USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) in our early days was essential. We were able to focus on and accelerate our growth with their support and sponsorship for things like trade shows, buyer trips, client connections and introduction and general advice and counsel. They were an entity that we could call on in so many ways when we needed guidance and industry insight."

Read more here.
Find out more about Indego Africa here.
madaAGOA creates jobs and changes lives in Madagascar
Click above to hear how AGOA is helping to changes lives in Madagascar through job creation.

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thresherYoung innovator's thresher reduces harvest losses in East Africa

About the size of a wheelbarrow, Stephen Ssekanyo's "Kungula thresher" fits nicely on
Hub-supported youth innovator, Stephen Ssekanyo, builds and markets postharvest tool for smallholder farmers who want clean, ready-to-package maize at a price they can afford, and in the rural locations where they work. Stephen has sold nearly 50 threshers at a $1,000 a piece since he was a finalist in the East African Postharvest Technology Competition and training program supported by the USAID Hub from February to May 2017.
the back of a motorcycle. That means he can deliver his thresher deep into rural areas where the unpaved roads become tracks and farmers rarely gain access to technologies. By delivering his innovation to the farmers' fields, he is helping them to prepare clean, ready-to-package maize at a price they can afford.

Common postharvest practices among rural farmers in Africa lead to 60 percent food loss. 

The impact of the machine on smallholder farmers lives is significant. It reduces postharvest loss and removes hours of laborious hand shelling or "stick beating," a practice where someone repeatedly whacks a bag of maize cobs with a stick to remove the kernels - a common practice among rural East African farmers who lack access to a mechanized thresher or can't afford it. Stephen's clean kernels fetch a higher price from millers and attract less moisture in storage, which directly translates to more income and greater food security for farmers. 

Unlike many models of mechanized threshers, the Kungula thresher can handle cobs that have a high-moisture level, catering to the realities of smallholder farmers who do not have adequate cob storage to let the harvest dry and who need to sell their harvest immediately for living expenses. High-moisture content makes the maize susceptible to mold growth and insect infestation, resulting in a high amount of broken grains and low milling yields.

Read more here.

jewelryKenyan jeweler breaks into U.S. market through USAID trade show support 

Kenya-based artisan Nicola Onyango of Urban Artefacts received her first U.S. order at the Hub-supported Coterie trade show in New York, September 2017. Nicola has a clear vision for a simple aesthetic that melds nomad with chic. U.S. customers love it. As of October 2017, she has shipped that order and is now pursuing 10 hot leads, also from Coterie. Because of Coterie, she has a sales pipeline in the U.S and a vision for growth. 

Nicola Onyango started her artisanal handmade jewelry company, Urban Artefacts, just two year ago. She stocks four Nairobi shops with her designs, which are mostly brass and impeccably polished. Her four Italian-trained, Kenyan employees expertly buff every piece to ensure quality and longevity. She's building a brand of well-made, contemporary jewelry with materials indigenous to East Africa, and she's just reached the U.S. market with the help of the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub. Urban Artefacts is just one of 1,345 firms that the USAID Hub has supported through technical assistance in product design and marketing to help them reach their export goals.

Read more here.

shiboriShibori tie-dye training brings new skills and opportunity to Heshima Kenya

When Angelina Jolie appeared at World Refugee Day in 2017, she wasn't expecting to receive the "Angie Scarf" crafted in traditional Shibori-style tie-dye by artisan girls
Angeline Jolie during the UNHCR fashion show for World Refugee Day at Heshima Kenya.
Photo Credit: Emily Snider, Sales and Partnerships Manager at Heshima Kenya 
trained by Heshima Kenya.
Heshima Kenya has come a long way since 2008. Over the years, Heshima has served more than 3,300 refugee women, girls and children through the organization's holistic model, redefining refugee protection and offering the gold-standard of care, protection, and empowerment for refugees, including education and training of artisan girls and women in the time-honored technique of Shibori tie-dye.
Through the support of the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) Heshima's education program was given a boost through an intensive 2-week training in the Shibori tie-dye technique. Emily Snider, Sales and Partnerships Manager at Heshima, explains how the training has impacted their program and the 20 women and girls who were trained. 

Read more here.

Where we work:

The East African Community countries - Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda - and, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Mauritius.
The author's views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.
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