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Social enterprise sets new bar for handicraft industry

27
Jan '10
From traditional baskets to fashion runways, African style is suddenly pervasive. Handicrafts sourced from Africa are particularly hot these days. The reason? Consumers not only love the vibrant patterns, but they are also increasingly attracted to the idea that "trade not aid" is a way to make a difference.

But if you're looking to improve lives with your purchase, not all "trade" is the same. A conscious consumer should ask questions. How much is each artisan paid? Are skills diversified to hedge against market shifts? Does a company's "doing good" rhetoric match verified social impact results? And who exactly made the product?

Indego Africa is an ambitious social enterprise currently the subject of a Harvard Business School case study that answers these questions with a creative new model to empower independent Rwandan businesswomen.

Handicrafts are engine driving longer-term strategy

Indego Africa doesn't just partner with cooperatives of artisans and sell their handicrafts to retailers and on its Webstore. 100% of the profits are applied to its sophisticated training programs in financial management, entrepreneurship, literacy, and computers all taught by top Rwandan university students.With each purchase a consumer delivers not just income, but also the true keys to eventual empowerment: skills, information and confidence.

Verifiable social impact

Based on the belief that social impact should be more than simple pronouncements, Indego Africa is committed to measuring and reporting its social impact, even hosting a comprehensive Social Impact webpage. Indego Africa's fair trade practices have also been thoroughly vetted by the Fair Trade Federation, the highest standard-bearer for the handicraft industry.

Transparency & direct connection to artisans

Unlike many other sellers of African handicrafts, Indego Africa is a fully transparent enterprise. That first means that each product tag features the name and signature of the artisan who made each individual product. Consumers can then follow that artisan's story online a uniquely personal touch. Indego Africa also makes its governing policies and procedures, as well as financial records, available to both its partner cooperatives and the public.

Indego Africa


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