So many times in life we don’t know how seemingly ordinary events and small decisions will change our future. Here is one such story—it will make you think twice about your next decision.
Downtown Nakuru, Kenya, 2004. Debra Akre, cofounder of Tembo Trading Education Project, is approached by an artist trying to sell her greeting cards. Debra agrees to buy some, but on her way to to get money to pay the artist, another artist named Peter Maina stops her. Peter tells Debra she is being overcharged for the cards. Due to his honesty, Debra decides to buy cards from Peter instead—and that is how a decade long friendship and business arrangement began.
Today, Tembo purchases cards from Peter regularly and sells them to people like us here at Jesus’ Economy, so that we can distribute them around the world to people like you via our fair trade shop. This is a win-win-win-win. Peter’s cards are purchased—providing for him and his family—and his work is distributed internationally. Tembo makes a profit when we purchase from them, allowing for them to reinvest that money into education in Kenya—their primary mission. Then, when you make a purchase from Jesus’ Economy, we reinvest any profit on our end, in microloans, church grants, meeting needs, and a little into our ongoing administrative costs. And you get beautiful, handmade greeting cards that you can give to friends and family members.
As Debra got to know Peter better, she heard his story. It was also a seemingly insignificant event that led Peter to his career. A younger Peter heard a Ugandan artist—who was visiting—tell him and his fellow students about his art and his work. Once Peter expressed interest, the Ugandan artist took Peter under his wing and taught him how to paint. Peter then became an entrepreneur, selling his work to others.
In addition to helping Peter’s work reach an international market, Tembo Trading Education Project has helped Peter get commissioned for other work. Peter created Tembo’s logo and the cover of the book that tells their story, Beneath the Baobab Tree: Where Poverty Dies and Hope Begins. Peter has also painted murals and other larger works.
Fair trade can transform lives, as Peter’s story so well illustrates. And it’s the small decisions sometimes that can lead to life transformation. What if Peter had not decided to tell the white lady visiting his city the fair price for work like his?
Follow where God leads you today—speak the truth, speak honestly, and speak up. You never know where it might lead.
Get your handmade greeting cards in our fair trade shop. You will receive something incredible in return—cards so beautiful your friends and family will want to frame them. But just so you know, you wouldn't be the first customer who decided to frame them.