Saving Africa is something many people are trying to do and in many different ways. From mobilizing Donor Aid to fund particular projects that never benefit the intended beneficiaries or to massively donating Aid in various forms which basically saves the day but doesn’t build the future or worse still prioritizing non issues.

We’ve all heard of NGO’s and charities in Africa and how many of them operate. Some of their approaches are the same that cripple development in the continent and in trying to do good, they do more harm. For example Aid and Charity organizations cultivating a culture where people expect things to be done for them or handed to them on a silver platter rather than working together to empower and liberate (mentally or economically) the people they seek to help. There’s a famous proverb they often attribute to the Chinese
 “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for a Life time”

Many organizations want to fix Africa. You cannot Fix Africa because it’s not broken. Many African problems are historical and before you get on saving the Continent, you may want to understand it first. If you really want to help Africa, partner with it. Partner with Africa in Trade, in Technology and Science, in infrastructure for Development, invest in the Human and intellectual Capital. Fund African solutions to African problems rather than imposing western solutions to African problems.

One vivid example of partnering with Africa is the Nakate Project. Founded by Shanley Knox in December of 2010, the project trains artisans in rural areas (through other local artisans) of Uganda to make goods, like jewelry and other crafts. They then purchase them, and introduce them to the fashion and design world in the United States through photo shoots, editorials, fashion shows, events and sales”

Based in Kakooge, Nakate at present operates in 2 districts in Uganda that is Nakasongola and Kampala. The project with a mission to empower women in underdeveloped or remote areas of the globe by providing a platform for their art in the high fashion and design community currently employs over 40 women trained in making jewelry inclusive of bags and shoes

The Women make jewelry to supplement their incomes and support their families. They decide their level of involvement in the project and are free to engage in their other projects. Some women teach their children to make beads and their entire family lives off the project while some do it part time. We buy from artisans, who are excellent in making their goods and emphasize quality and consistency in the products

“We are bent on helping artisans by working hand in hand to develop their careers within their own parts of the world and developing a fashion presence through their design. We seek to establish a place for these artisans within the fashion market, and at the same time, we’re helping develop the fashion and design market within them – giving them an understanding of the fact that they’re part of the global market” says Shanley

One distinctive thing about Nakate is their multi-dimensional approach to empowerment of women while involving them in the process.  The women obtain skills in making jewelry that competes globally; they supplement their incomes to better their standards of living with a chance to showcase their works globally. What makes this unique is how Nakate studied the lives of these women in Kakooge, Identified tasks in their daily lives that they could use to empower them. Train them to get better in the art and then pay them for doing what they Love to do.

“We believe that the creation of goods other people value does something for the producer of the product. We view our Ugandan artisans as talented artists. Artists take pride in their art. And, to know they are adding value in the global economy changes the way they view the world. By selling a product we empower them.  We believe generating sustainable income is far better than a quick fix. We are empowering women, and that is intentional. Women with businesses change the local political environment for the better, and we are also helping them start their own businesses in other areas by working with us.” says Mike the VP of Business Development at Nakate

In the US, Nakate is featured in stores in Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Online as well. Nakate has so far been featured in fashion shows in Seattle and Portland and will be featured in New York, Chicago, Vegas and Los Angeles this year. They will be shifting base to New York as of April 2012.

I believe that Partnering with Africa is one of the many ways all those who really want to help can do other than all the patronage and politics involved in Aid. Aid has never been and will never be a solution to African issues. Its Trade and not Aid that can and will help Africa

Check out the Nakate Fall Line of jewelry made from recycled paper

Check out the Online Store and purchase Nakate Products HERE

Follow Nakate Online

Contact Shanley Knox:

More Links on Nakate:

Transformed Magazine:

CBS Sacramento:

Fox 40:        CiaAfrique:

*All Pictures Used with permission from Nakate Project