Last week, Linda and I attended the New York International Gift Fair, where we fortunate to meet many of our existing Fair Trade partners as well as find some wonderful artisan groups to work with. We’ll be adding many items to Marafiki in the weeks to come – Fair Trade candles, new jewelry, musical instruments, and new steel drum art, to name a few. One of the new additions we’re very excited about is a collection of greeting cards created by a group called Cards from Africa.
Cards from Africa founder Chris Page was inspired by a Kenyan doctor who had started a similar endeavor to generate income for women in a Nairobian slum. Working in war-torn Rwanda, Chris teamed up with Rwandan artist Gabriel Dusabe and together they learned how to make paper and create simple card prototypes. Their first employee was a young orphaned woman named Ariette. After one month’s time they asked her to bring another friend to train but she brought two! Shortly after, twenty more orphaned youth were trained and the business was born. Profits are continually reinvested into the company as well as the lives of the artists.
Cards from Africa hopes to grow to provide steady employment to 300 orphaned young people in Rwanda and to provide a model for sustainable job creation in Africa. Says Page: ” By unleashing creativity, teaching valuable skills, and fostering self-worth, we are confident that someday they will be able to access the international market themselves and contribute to a thriving economy and better quality of life for all Rwandans.”