November 26, 2014

Former Model Helps Kenyan Women Find Fulfilling Fashion Work

Siamanda Chege sounds like one of those women who would be really intimidating if she wasn’t also so cool. She moved to the United States from Kenya and became an international runway model. She used the money to help out her family back in Kenya. Once she had succeeded in doing that, she decided to help out the rest of her community back home as well. She started an orphanage to provide homes for children orphaned because their parents had AIDS. She funds the orphanage in part through a company she started that also provides lucrative and fulfilling employment for women in her hometown.

The company is called Bebe Ravi (a French term that translates to “baby’s delight”). Chege sends wonderful high-quality Italian yarn to the 100+ women that she employs in Kenya. They crochet or knit the yarn into gorgeous baby clothes. The clothes are then sold in high-end stores here in the United States (such as Barney’s).

Now if you didn’t know any better you might think that this type of business exploits the women who are working so hard to crochet the items by hand. However, a report by Josie Raymond at Tonic says that this isn’t the case at all. The women are paid twice the average local wage. They are also fed good meals during the work day. Consider that the region they live in has an unemployment rate as high as forty percent and many of the women are widows, that’s a pretty good deal.

Plus they get to spend their days crocheting with high-quality Italian yarns for a really good cause. Don’t we all kind of wish we got paid double the local average wage to do that?!

Source: Tonic