“Having been blessed by a wonderful childhood in Zimbabwe and an amazing journey which has us living on Hilton Head Island, SC, USA, I felt a pressing need to give back to the struggling people of Zimbabwe. With all the help poured into many African nations, Zimbabwe exists by the sheer will of the Zimbabwe people. For as long as I can remember Zimbabweans of all colors and ages never give up and always seem to willingly help one another. No matter how bleak things appear, they never give up and will always get together and “make a plan”. Early in 2012 my father took ill which resulted in me taking an unexpected trip back to Zimbabwe.
As Dad recovered I had time to explore the city of my youth and was amazed to see how resourceful Zimbabweans had become through sheer necessity. Homes were turned into multiple small businesses, restaurants, offices, nurseries and commerce had taken on a whole new dimension. People were “making a plan” and with an unemployment rate of 90%, they were doing whatever it took to pay the bills and feed their families. However, what struck me the most were the street vendors who were on every corner of main roads and along the sides of busy streets. Not so long ago, these vendors had their meagre businesses mowed down by bulldozers, ordered by government officials. Yet, here they were again risking it all to try to make a few dollars.
Due to the terrible economy, street vendors currently represent 70% of small businesses in Zimbabwe. These artists and sculptors are amazing. The quality of work is excellent and the imagination unlimited. I was intrigued at this talent and decided to do what I could to help just a little. I started to speak to the sculptors and found an amazing young man Gift Rusere. His passion for his work and what could be, made it very apparent that I had been led to work with him.
Our business plan is simple: I purchase from local artists at a fair price and then sell their wares in the United States. From those sales, 30% of the net profit will be returned to Zimbabwe to help three charities close to my heart. This way, I can help the artists by purchasing directly from them, and I can give back to others who are working to help those in need in Zimbabwe.”
Co-Founder of Zimbabwe Artisan Alliance