“We made a commitment early on that we’ll never treat our artisans as charity cases. We will not let their past define their future. We will give them a voice and a path to experiencing dignity.”
KEZA’s co-founder, Jared Angaza, moved to Rwanda in March 2006. His goal was to develop business opportunities that would liberate oppressed women and develop a new image for them, and their country.
Decades of donor dependency and substandard expectations have crippled developing nations and greatly influenced the foreign perspective of the continent. Angaza was determined to play a part in breaking that cycle.
After meeting a group of women that were trying desperately to find a means of living outside of prostitution, he committed to spending the next two years listening and learning from their experiences.
They revealed to him that they did not want to be known for their past. They wanted to be recognized as entrepreneurs, artisans and successful mothers. They wanted a voice to tell their story of beauty, hope and happiness, despite all they had endured.
He realized that if the women were provided a path to pull themselves out of oppression on their own, they would be blessed with a dignity that no one could ever give or take away from them.
It is from this experience that KEZA, meaning “beautiful” in the native tongue of Rwanda, was born. In 2008, Angaza teamed up with renowned philanthropist Ilea Dorsey (now co-founder) to test market the KEZA concept. Together they spent two years refining the brand and developing the methodology behind it.
KEZA now works with exemplary artisans from developing nations all over the world.