The hard working men and women of Rwanda inspired Salha Kaitesi to start her business. She came across basket weavers in Rwanda and after talking with them, she knew they were the ones she wanted to help out the most. Basket weaving is a skill that many Rwandese women have, passed from one generation to the next. The women are survivors of the Rwandan genocide; and Hutu and Tutsi women have put their differences aside and are weaving baskets to improve their lives and those of their children.
Beauty of Rwanda empowers Rwandese women by selling their handmade crafts. It is not charity, but does promote fair trade. The weavers in rural Rwanda are facing poverty and Beauty of Rwanda is helping them to overcome that. The women are the bread winners of their families because either their husbands were killed during the genocide or are in prison for the crimes they committed during the genocide. Some are living with HIV and need the income in order to buy essential medicine. Beauty of Rwanda’s aim is to promote socio-economic wellbeing of vulnerable groups in Rwanda.
By selling these products, Beauty of Rwanda are looking to economically uplift poverty-stricken men, women and their families through the making of handcrafts that include basket making and bead work. This enables the products access to international markets, other than those at home. The purpose of what these handcrafts are for will take them from being not only decorative and ornamental but utility-based and functional when applied in a modern context.
Currently, Beauty of Rwanda is running a campaign called “Only One Basket” where Salha is asking each and every individual to buy at least one piece of the crafts available in order to end poverty in rural Rwanda. This campaign is for Rwandese and Rwanda as a whole. The weavers would be the beneficiaries.
Starting the business was hard, Salha states: "There are lots of things to learn, lots of things to do, things to put in place i.e. importing, shipping, etc... It’s still hard but I am told it will get better with time.”
Salha hopes to be able to make a huge difference to the lives of the women she is trying to help. She hopes the world will respond to "our campaign of trying to get at least one piece of our crafts in every household. In the long run, this would make a huge difference to the people of Rwanda."
On 8th March 2011, Salha was voted among the top 20 Inspirational Women of African Diaspora in Europe 2011.Salha currently has a huge following on social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. She can also be found at www.beautyofrwanda.com and enquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Profiled by FIN Support Newcastle, UK)
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