2015 was a remarkable year at Craft Afrika, and as the pace begins to pick up this year, it would be remiss not to celebrate these 7 women who have, in one way or the other, contributed to our achievements.
But first a little history. Craft Afrika was founded in 2012, we didn’t have much then, we don’t have much now either. But what we do have, is gumption and a determined (and sometimes naive) belief that we can pull off just about anything we put our minds to.
Much of this belief is buoyed by certain people we have met along the way. These people have opened a door for every one that has remained shut, given us encouragement when backs have been turned and pushed us out of our comfort zone just as we were getting cozy.
In saluting these 7, we are not discounting the support we have received from each of you reading this, we are instead saying that you are indeed represented in these 7, even though not by name.
1. Wanjiku Nyoike-Mugo (Founder, The Designers Studio)
In between running her popular blog and online store The Designers Studio, writing for Kenya Airways inflight magazine Msafiri and doing the groundwork for her design concept store, Wanjiku found time to help us with our communications portfolio in the run-up to Afrika Handmade. She sat with us through countless planning meetings, worked through the concept note, created a buzz around our event and at the launch, surprised everyone with her poise and great vibe as MC.
2. Margaretta wa Gacheru (Journalist, Business Daily)
With a career spanning over 40 years, Margaretta is one of the most influential people in the local creative scene.
As an arts and culture journalist, she is often required to be in several places at the same time, and so it is always a pleasure to see her attend and write about our events.
3. Flora Okuku (Lecturer, Technical University of Kenya)
From the get-go, Flora has been our lead cheerleader. She was a mentor in the CEIP program that we ran in 2013, facilitator at Afrika Handmade Symposium (both in 2014 and 15) and a connector to academia, a key player in the work we do.
But perhaps what we value most about her, is how she will not let us rest on our laurels. She is always challenging us to be better, achieve bigger, have more impact.
4. Wanny Angerer (Founder, Moving Cultures)
We first met Wanny at Jumpstart Thursday, a monthly networking forum we used to host for the craft sector. Her enthusiasm for our work and bubbly personality was all we needed. We knew we had an ally.
She is generous with her ideas and encouragement, always keen to find ways to support us.
And that smile…isn’t it enough to brighten the most dreary of days?!
5. Atieno Odenyo (Consultant, international development)
Armed with a wealth of experience in the NGO world and a sharp mind, Atieno was a great addition to the planning team of Afrika Handmade last year.
She took on the fundraising responsibilities – a challenging task, given that this was a first-time project within the creative sector. In between her frequent travels, report writing and family duties, she wrote countless proposals and made followup phone calls. And when that didn’t work, she drove to the respective offices to seek conclusive answers.
Her tenacity is inspirational and we are forever grateful for her commitment to what we do.
6. Goodie Odhiambo (Owner, Goodies African Interiors & Gifts)
As a mentor, Goodie’s vast experience in retail, community training, product development and interior decoration has been priceless to our young enterprise.
She has always been available, going out of her way to ensure that we succeed. Case in point: during Afrika Handmade ’14, she used her interior decor expertise to spruce up our meeting venue, while sourcing the items from her retail shop. Last year she went further still, not only decorating the designer’s lounge but hiring hands to do the heavy lifting.
7. Harsita Waters (Head, Cultural Affairs Alliance Francaise, Nairobi)
Fierce. The one word we would use to describe this powerhouse of a woman.
From the moment we approached her with our intention to host Afrika Handmade at Alliance Francaise, she was on her feet, mobilizing funds, giving us ideas on setup, sharing contacts and working overtime with the venue’s logistical issues.
Suffice it to say, we owe much of our success in 2015 to her.