Changing Our World
Edited by Zachary D. Kaufman
Chapter 5: Stand bold': Indego's Africa's business case for Rwandan women
5. ‘Stand bold’: Indego Africa’s business case for Rwandan women Conor B. French, Matthew T. Mitro, and Benjamin D. Stone INTRODUCTION Long-term partnerships, global markets, and education drive Indego Africa’s social enterprise approach to empowering thousands of entrepreneurial businesswomen in Africa. A non-profit organization incorporated in the U.S., Indego Africa (IA) forges long-term business and development partnerships with for-profit cooperatives of female artisans in Rwanda. IA exports, markets, and sells its artisan partners’ accessories and home décor products on its ecommerce website and to major U.S. retail chains. IA then pools 100 percent of its profits from sales with donations to fund training programs in business management, entrepreneurship, literacy, and technology for its artisan partners. Through their partnership with IA, artisan women generate income through product sales to meet their families’ critical needs while also acquiring the necessary skills to run their own profitable businesses over the long-term. By focusing on both market access and training equally, IA merges two normally divergent development approaches: the traditional aid model and the purely profit-driven commercial model. Similarly, to achieve sustainability in its approach, IA draws financial support for its programs by bringing together two typically separate development funding sources: philanthropic investment in women’s education and the consumer goods market. IA adheres to the premise that ‘[a] company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference that it can preserve.’1 For IA, the path toward a durable competitive advantage has meant patiently constructing business infrastructure for scale and sustainability. Perhaps...
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