International Economic Development,
Promotion of International Understanding
Mission: Indego Africa (www.indegoafrica.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit social enterprise that creates jobs and sustainable livelihoods for female artisan entrepreneurs through market access and education. Indego Africa partners with cooperatives of socio-economically marginalized women artisans in Rwanda and sells their jewelry, home décor, and fashion accessories on (a) its e-commerce site (shop.indegoafrica.org), (b) to boutiques and stores worldwide, and (c) through large-scale brand and design collaborations. Indego Africa then pools 100% of its profits with all donations to fund job skills training for its partners in management, entrepreneurship, literacy, computers, and health. Through their partnership with Indego Africa, women artisans generate income through product sales to meet their families’ basic needs now and develop job skills that enhance their long-term earning potential.
Results: Currently, Indego Africa partners with over 500 women from across 13 partner cooperatives in Rwanda. Each woman survived unimaginable horrors during the 1994 genocide and has continued to lead a difficult life of poverty and struggle. Many are widows, suffer from HIV/AIDs and/or lingering psychological trauma, lack formal schooling or the means to enroll their children in formal schooling, and have inadequate food security, housing, and healthcare. In our initial social impact assessment, we discovered that 93% of our artisan partners had previously earned less than $1.00 per day. This amount often must feed and house their entire family, which includes an average of 5.5 dependents as many care for orphans and elderly relatives in addition to their own children.
Each year, IA conducts a robust annual social impact assessment, which compiles developmental data on our artisan partners that includes both quantitative metrics such as basic demographics, income, education levels, and food security and qualitative indicators such as in-depth self-perception. IA’s female artisan partners have seen dramatic improvements in earned income, food security, access to water, access to schooling for themselves and their children, and bank accounts. Highlights from our fifth Social Impact Report include:
• Earned Income: In 2012, 76% of our female artisan partners earned more than $1.00 per day, compared to 7% in 2008.
• Food Security: In 2012, 74% of our female artisan partners reported that their families never ran out of food, compared to 5% in 2008.
• Housing: In 2012, 76% of our female artisan partners owned their homes, compared to 41% in 2008.
• Health Access: In 2012, 81% of our female artisan partners had regular access to medical care, compared to 26% in 2008.
Target demographics: artisan women
Geographic areas served: Rwanda
Programs: Indego Africa’s economic empowerment model consists of two core components: market access and education.
Market Access. Indego Africa exports and sells our artisan partners’ handmade jewelry, home décor, and accessories on (i) our e-commerce site (shop.indegoafrica.org), (ii) to over 100 brick-and-mortar stores worldwide, and (iii) through collaborations with established brands and labels, including Anthropologie, J.Crew, and Nicole Miller. Our market access program integrates our artisan partners into the global economy.
Education. Indego Africa pools 100% of our profits from sales with all grants and donations to fund job skills training programs for our artisan partners in Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Literacy, Computers, and Health. Our training programs remove the barriers – both personal and structural – to women participating in global commerce over the long-term and without our assistance.