Shop for a Cause: Gifts that Help Support HIV+ Artisans in Kenya

Shop for a Cause: Gifts that Help Support HIV+ Artisans in Kenya

Imani Workshops was created by AMPATH in 2005 to provide sustainable income opportunities to HIV-positive women in western Kenya.

What started as a small shop, now employs over 100 people. Imani employees now also include individuals with disabilities and more broadly those who receive medical treatment and support from AMPATH. Ninety percent of those employed with Imani are women.

Since 2013, Global Gifts has led efforts to grow the sales of Imani’s handmade items in the US, and more importantly to help Imani grow. “Having products that shoppers in the US desire is key to growing sales, which translates to more employment and resources available through Imani,” said Sam Carpenter, executive director of Global Gifts. 
Barb Zech, Indianapolis artist and long-time Imani supporter, traveled to Eldoret this summer to work with the artisans to develop new designs and provide training to produce these new designs.  Necklaces, a bracelet, and scarves made from recycled t-shirts are among the results of Barb’s trip, and these items are available for this holiday season at Global Gifts. “We are especially excited when the folks at Imani share their own designs with us,” said Carpenter. “The recently added red bib necklace is a great example of that.”

Global Gifts has been an important and stable partner with Imani, which has also allowed them to focus on and grow their Kenyan sales. “Some of our strongest growth has come from sales in Kenya,” says Scott VanKirk, long-time volunteer with Imani who has helped oversee operations at the workshop for many years.  This type of market diversity is key to Imani’s long term success.

A full array of Imani Workshops’ items is available for sale online and in Global Gifts’ four store locations - a great stop for supporting Imani on #SmallBusinessSaturday or #CyberMonday. 
Give the gift of hope this holiday season with a purchase from Imani Workshops!

Imani's Impact: Antonia's Story 

Antonina started working at Imani in 2006 after she was diagnosed with HIV. At that time, she was uncertain of her own survival as well as her 8-year-old daughter's future. Through AMPATH, Antonina was able to access HIV medical treatment, and then hone her skills in sewing at Imani Workshop.
Over more than a decade, Antonina kept in touch with Barb Zech from Indianapolis. On a recent trip to Kenya, Barb worked with Antonina and Imani to start a new product line of scarves made from recycled t-shirts. T-shirts donated to Goodwill and other US charitable organizations are shipped to Kenya by the ton, sometimes causing job losses by local clothing manufacturers. The new Imani t-shirt scarves create jobs by upcycling gently used T’s into fun and stylish scarves.
The Imani t-shirt scarves are a wonderful example of collaboration. Stacey Cassel, a volunteer with Global Gifts, introduced the idea. Then the employees at Imani built upon it with ideas for adding beadwork and Kitenge accents to some of the scarves, which adds unique Kenyan style.
Antonina is now one of the Imani tailors who creates these scarves, and more importantly, is a strong mother, a great friend, and mentor for other women working at Imani. She proudly shared that her now 19-year-old daughter is in college in Nairobi studying Deaf Education. Her daughter hopes to become a teacher for the Deaf - another underserved population in Kenya. Because of AMPATH and Imani Workshops, she has overcome many challenges!
Written By Deb Neary
Giving Tuesday is November 28th 
On #GivingTuesday - November 28th - your online gift will be matched by our AMPATH Development Board. Help us raise $100k on 1 day to change 1 million lives!
Save the date, and use this link to make a donation! 
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