Our artisans are why we’re here.
We purchase from over 50 suppliers—collaborating with producers and artisans from Mexico to Chile, the West Bank to Nepal, U.S. to Russia.
Below are just a few stories.
Central and South America:
Liberia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe:
Cocoa Producers in Ghana:
Meet Rwandan Artisans:
“The story of INEZA is one of strength, courage and community. All of the women of INEZA are living with HIV/AIDS as a result of genocidal rape and sexual violence. However, rather than focusing on the horrors of the genocide and its aftermath, the women of INEZA are a testament to the power of Rwandan women to work towards a better future for themselves, their families and their nation.
The INEZA sewing group was formed in 2006 by WE-ACTx (Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment), an international initiative launched in the fall 2003 by AIDS physicians, activists and researchers in response to the women and AIDS crisis in Rwanda. Headquartered in Kigali, WE-ACTx provides HIV testing, care, treatment, support, and education. They focus on empowering HIV-positive women and girls to take charge of their lives and become leaders in the fight against AIDS.
The 25 women of INEZA were among the first to be treated by WE-ACTx. Between 2004 and 2006, these women had received supplemental nutrition support from the World Food Program of the United Nations. When the UN program ended, the women were left with no way to feed themselves and their children. WE-ACTx established the sewing group as a means to generate income as well as to provide a place for the women to continue healing the physical and emotional wounds left by the genocide. Margot Moinester interned with WE-ACTx in the summer of 2007 and assisted INEZA in designing and producing a product line targeted to the U.S. and European markets. While still utilizing traditional vibrant African fabrics, the collaboration resulted in fashion-forward personal accessories featuring highly desired functional elements for the Western consumer. Manos de Madres funded training for INEZA to improve production efficiencies and to learn how to price products in an effort to insure a living wage. The line was launched at the August 2007 New York International Gift Fair.
This summer marks the four-year anniversary of Manos de Madres’ involvement with INEZA. The collective is now a fully registered cooperative, which insures democratic management and distribution of funds. The women are recognized as highly skilled tailors and their products can be found in a wide variety of shops throughout Rwanda, the US and Europe. They have evolved from just being grateful to have a place to go every morning to healthy and successful businesswomen. To quote Marie, ”We are INEZA – a sewing cooperative of 25 women living with HIV/AIDS in post-genocide Rwanda. We view INEZA as a family of hope where we have the opportunity to make an income to support our families and ourselves. We no longer live in desperation, but are INEZA – doing well!’”