The Women of Kisele Village
By Elaine HoustonWomen in rural Tanzanian Villages are strong women. They have to be because they are responsible for a lot, including balancing household duties, child rearing, and work, as they are typically the major financial providers for their families. With all of their family obligations, they generally do not have the time or resources to focus on generating income.That's where the The Village Heart Project comes in. Sponsored by the African Reflections Foundation (ARF) the project recognizes this disparity and aims to promote Women Empowerment to enhance quality of life in rural communities. One of the many villages ARF works closely with is Kisele Village in Mkuranga, Tanzania. Recently, they have encouraged the women in this rural village to form a women's group to promote unity and synergy. They decided on the name "Matokeo" which in Swahili means "results". The name shows the stead-fast mindset of these women and how they are looking forward to seeing change and results within their community. With the help of African Reflections Founder Maryvonne Pool along with volunteer Alexandria Faure, a 10-acre farming project was launched in Kisele. Together, they have set the groundwork to grow turmeric and ginger. Once the plants are harvested, the women will be able to sell their produce. Matokeo has faced obstacles since starting their farming project such as torrential rain however they are not letting that stop them and are still working hard. They are determined to create a more enriching and sustainable life through agriculture and ARF is there to help them every step of the way.
MAKING WOMEN IN KENYA LOOK GOOD UNDERNEATH
By Elaine Houston
A great necklace can make a woman’s dress sing but it’s what’s underneath that dress that’s grabbing the attention of four twenty-somethings from Kenya. Meet Charity, Constance, Millicent and Stella. They are the owners of Double Dees, a women’s lingerie store in Nairobi, Kenya.
Victoria may have a secret, but these ladies want everyone to know that a good bra gives a woman confidence and for women in Kenya who are beautifully endowed that confidence was lacking because they could not find a bra that fit. So, necessity as the saying goes became the mother of invention. The four friends, two in college in Kenya and two in college in the U-S, knew they had to open a store to fill that need.
Opportunity came knocking when Stella pitched the idea of Double Dee’s Lingerie to the Harvard Women in Business innovations competition in 2014. “We didn’t emerge the winners but we received great feedback and revised the business plan accordingly, said Stella.’’ In 2015, Stella with a revised business plan, pitched the idea again at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York before members of the New York State Business Plan Regional Competition and Double Dee's won first place. It earned the group 20,000 dollars and 5,000 dollars worth of legal fees.
Stella pitched again to Harvard again that same year and the business plan came in 2nd and won 2,000. They used the funds to rent a space and opened Double Dee’s Lingerie store in June, 2016. They are already thinking of the future and of giving Kenyan women the lift they need. “”Our three year plan is to have multiple stores all over the country and in East Africa, says Stella.” They carry sizes 30D to M.