Katie Hile, Totonga Bomoi: Build Our Future
Totonga Bomoi: Build Our Future is one of those projects that practically created itself. Katie, after receiving a Masters Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations, went to the Congo to volunteer. A friend asked for some help generating income and Katie asked that her friend make 25 handbags that she could sell to her family and friends in the US. When the friend received her profits, other women in the village expressed interest in joining the project, giving Katie the idea and courage to begin creating an artisan’s cooperative which is now called “Totonga Bomoi.”
Katie explains, “As a Denver-based social enterprise, we connect you to African artisans in a unique way. Our mission is not product or profit driven, but encourages economic development that is person-centered, respecting the dignity of all people.”
Since inception, the women in the cooperative have produced 480 handbags and accessories. The impact of the earnings is significant. For example, one of the artisans and cooperative members has built a three-room home for her family, which is a significant improvement over their previous housing conditions, illustrating commitment to her family as well as showing how one person can affect a large number of people within the community-based culture of the Congo. Profits earned by artisans enable them to provide and serve their families, communities, and country inspiring others to make a difference.
GRANT AWARD DATE: January 9, 2015