By Jane Izard

What do Uganda, empowering women and fair trade business have in common? Three Asheville women who have the initiative to start a business in which they hope to change the way consumers think.


In July, Carrie Wagner, Mandy Broderick and Molly Dingledine will lead a trip to rural Uganda with the intention of empowering females and youth, establishing fair trade businesses and to make connections. These women are part of Village Wisdom Ventures, an Asheville business that started in late 2015.


Their business supports the mission of the outreach programs that are already put in place by the Kiwuwa Foundation (kiwuwa.org). The foundation, headed by James Kiwuwa and his wife Olivia Mukabera Kiwuwa, is a Ugandan community development organization dedicated to empowering youth and communities to succeed in a global economy. The Kiwuwa foundation itself was inspired by Carrie’s book, Village Wisdom; Immersed in Uganda, Inspired by Job, Changed for Life.


Through personal experiences, Carrie, Mandy and Molly fell in love with Africa. Carrie’s relationship started with a three-year term in Uganda with Habitat for Humanity. Mandy, who has managed Ten Thousand Villages for nine years, has carried products from Uganda since 2009. Molly spent three months in Cameroon in 2009 and her long-term dream is to return to Africa. Through networking and a desire to return to Africa, the three like-minded women met and formed Village Wisdom Ventures. It all started with a connection; “connection is the key to our organization,” according to Carrie Wagner.


In Uganda, the team will connect and collaborate with women’s craft cooperatives and small business owners to learn and share best practices of fair trade, entrepreneurship and equitable relationships. According to Molly their goal “is to create opportunities for impoverished craftspeople to become self-sufficient by establishing fair trade businesses for them and connecting them to broader market access so they can generate income. They will have the ability to earn a living wage, which will support their families, send their children to school and contribute to the overall livelihood of their communities.”


To make this happen, Carrie, Mandy and Molly, will work with three different groups in Uganda: Traxier Komantale, James and Olivia Kiwuwa and Pride of Ruwenzori Wagner Memorial School. Each woman brings her set of skills — Carrie, the trip leader and education consultant, Mandy, fair trade consultant and Molly as a fellow artist and creative. Molly feels a “personal responsibility, as a woman with opportunities, choices and the ability to sustain myself through selling my artwork, to share my time and energy to create opportunities for them … these women have skills, yet broad market access is unavailable without assistance from connecting partners.”


Mandy wants a deeper involvement. “Fair trade concepts make sense to me … the impacts of fair trade as an economic development model has so much potential … As consumers become more ethically driven, they will be looking for this kind of thing.”


Carrie says, “by supporting this, people will be helping women and not a sweatshop … We need to be part of something that will make people step back.”
“Globally, when more women work, economies grow,” says Molly. “The impact of economic empowerment could be life-changing for these women.”


Currently, Village Wisdom Ventures is raising money to invest in the start up cost, tools, materials, training and initial orders to be sold in the American market. Recently the team hosted a benefit concert in Asheville with Kinobe and Friends, a world-renowned musician from Uganda. Molly says, “We need financial support to pursue this venture. You have the opportunity to share your gifts so that others may have the same opportunity someday.” Village Wisdom Ventures is raising money through Generosity; the site to donate is generosity.com/community-fundraising/village-wisdom-trip-to-uganda.
To learn more about Village Wisdom Ventures visit their website: http://villagewisdom.net/ and their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Village-Wisdom-1645865925703139/.

Jane Izard is a freelance graphic designer, writer and photographer living in Flat Rock, NC; she grew up in Charleston and may be reached via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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