What motivates you?
Ten years ago I was given the opportunity to come to the USA to further my studies. Coming to a foreign land from rural South Africa I was marveled by the opportunities that America had to offer. Knowing where I came from, and having since made America my home, I want to bring the untold stories of Africa to my new home. I am motivated by the knowledge of knowing the struggle of been given something and working for something. Giving people who are less fortunate the opportunities to better themselves motivates me. In sum, having the platform to transform the world into a better place where parents have the opportunity to provide for their children with a better education and physiological needs is what encourages me.
What's the story behind your business?
In 2016, my American boyfriend came to visit South Africa for the first time. In addition to visiting my family, we toured around the eastern provinces South Africa and Swaziland. This is where that boyfriend, now husband, proposed. The touring was wonderful filled with the most spectacular African sunsets, a view that I've never forgotten. Moreover, we stopped at many places asking for directions as it was tough to navigate the South African roads without the GPS. When we stopped in Swaziland we saw a street vendor woman who smiled at us as she was weaving a basket. She was also selling other home decorative that she had already completed. We were very impressed by her craftsmanship; how the wooden hand carved bowls were with various shading and patterns.
My husband and I brought the four wooden bowls and had brought those as presents to our friend and families here in the USA. I was delighted with how grateful each face lightened up when we gave them the handmade crafted bowl. It was even better when we informed them that a woman made this and it was just $30 for all the bowls.
The money from those bowls will support that woman's family. She will perhaps earn enough to take her kids to school. If there are enough examples of weaving women who manage to send their kids to school many Africa families may break out of their poverty. Maybe someday Africa will be seen as a business partner. A high-skilled workforce known for quality. My business hopes to build a brand name for the modern African art that can be shared by the entire world while sharing the beautiful stories of the African people.
What are the opportunities and challenges?
In today's world, everything is possible, and we are becoming more interconnected than ever before. Social media platforms offer every person a voice. Women are groomed to be the leader in today's world. The new generation tends to support sustainable and fair trade organizations. With that being said, we will make sure that our sellers are fairly paid, and our products are produced sustainably. Now is the time whereby women are recognized and given the opportunities to excel in the business industry. However, the significant possibility is that our business will appeal to the western market.
Some challenges will include selecting the sellers to represent our brand. Launching our brand just online will not be sufficient as we are trying to introduce and integrate into a more extensive scale market in the USA and hopefully to the world. Shipping our products from Africa will also increase the cost of our products and may lead to more expensive products than the market is willing to pay.
The $10,00 grant will put this idea that I once had when I first arrived in the USA into a reality. With $10,000 we can start to buy products (Teebs handbags, African modern necklaces and earrings) at wholesale price from the sellers and start selling them. We could invest $1000 to develop the website, $5000 in the products including international shipping, and the other $4000 will be saved for three months so that we can evaluate the strategy. Having capital will allow me to launch my company.