Several years ago, the local parish of the Catholic Church in Gisagara District, a southern province in Rwanda, chose several vulnerable children to participate in a year-long program to learn how to basket-weave and in turn provide for themselves and their families. Each of the participants were orphans who were also charged with taking care of their younger siblings and/or elders. Among these children were Sixbert, Media, and Clementine (pictured above).
When their training was complete, and now that they were adults, the three friends decided to join their skills together to build a business. They formed the Amizero Cooperative and are now part of Azizi Life, a partner of Jesus’ Economy. Azizi Life, a fair trade organization dedicated to working with artisans who receive fair wages for their labor, represents 25 independent artisan groups throughout Rwanda. The income the creators earn helps them maintain their businesses and provide for their families, including now having access to medical insurance, school supplies, healthier foods, and financial independence. Azizi Life is transforming Rwandan communities through artists like Sixbert, Media, and Clementine.
A few years ago, Sixbert and Media got married, and now they are building a family. With the money they have earned from their business, they have been able to construct a home with electricity and water for their family, and Clementine has been able to buy land locally.
Sixbert, Media, and Clementine’s specialty is creating home goods from hand twisted banana twine. Leaves and stalks of banana trees are a renewable resource in Rwanda, and if they are woven skillfully, the products will be sturdy and last for many years.
Together Sixbert, Media, and Clementine are running a successful business, and it is their togetherness and their craft that is leading them toward amizero: hope.
One of the greatest features of Fair Trade products is their bright, colorful and inspired designs that are sure to spark a conversation with someone. When pieces are unique or colorful, people are drawn to it and tend to want to know where it came from. This is when items from Jesus Economy can really shine because you have the opportunity to share with them all that fair trade item does.
Here's a few products from our Fair Trade Shop that'll be sure to start a conversation.
There's still a week left to Fair Trade Month, so grab your Fair Trade item and get ready to tell all your friends why it's a piece of hope.
Decorative baskets can be a wonderful addition to your home, especially when they're functional and made by hand. We carry a wide variety of hand-woven baskets in our Fair Trade Shop that you can use in your home to add a bit of beauty and functionality.
These handcrafted boxes are a wonderful way to stay organized and hold your belongings beautifully, in fair trade style. Choose from our range of sizes, or choose a nesting set of three. Crafted from banana leaves and stalks, these cubes are strong and sturdy, with open handholds. The large size is designed to fit into all your modular storage shelves.
The Teardrop Basket is handcrafted by artisans of the Peace Baskets Cooperative using the same age-old techniques found in Rwanda’s national museum. Lightweight and delicately woven, this basket makes a beautiful display piece, or can be used to store various treasures! Stands 11.5" tall.
The beautiful capim dourado or 'golden grass' used in our Brazilian woven grass basket collections can be found growing in the Tocantins region of Brazil. It is a protected resource, and its raw grasses cannot be exported. Only the finished grass products of the indigenous peoples of Brazil can be brought into your home--making these items unique and valuable. It comes in three different sizes to suit your needs whether it's for jewelry, keys, knick-knacks, or some delicious baked goods.
This fair trade casserole basket from Haiti is perfect for transporting your favorite casserole dish or just for sprucing it up. It can also be used for storing items or filled with potted plants to make a beautiful centerpiece or window sill decoration. The possibilities are endless!
The Banana Divided Serving Tray is crafted from the locally-gathered leaves and stalks of banana trees. Artisans use a specially designed, handmade needle to thread dried banana leaves around the banana stalks. The result is a super-sturdy tray that’s great for carrying cups. It can be used for all sorts of things like a little shelf or a storage unit for craft supplies; we like to use the tray to hold boxes of tea bags- it’s great for serving guests!
These woven baskets are created from dyed natural sisal fibers woven over a core of forest grasses. The tea color is created when the naturally-white sisal fibers are steeped in Rwandan-grown tea leaves. The large basket is flat on the bottom and makes a beautiful tray for serving or display. Imagine the medium basket on your dining room table filled with warm bread or fruit. The small basket is a beautiful way to hold jewelry or keys, or it may be filled with small treats and used as a gift basket. Each basket has a loop on the back for hanging- the trio looks gorgeous on a blank wall. They come in a variety of colors and patterns.
All of these baskets would look wonderful in your home while carrying a beautiful story of hope. The Jesus' Economy Fair Trade Shop carries several more basket options whether for beauty or storage. Check out our selection of baskets.
Our Fair Trade Shop is full of several handmade products that we love, and one item we have a lot of are beautiful sets of earrings. We've picked five pairs that you'll be sure to fall in love with and want to purchase whether it's for you, your mom, best friend, or sister.
These trendy disc earrings are made by a group of female weavers from Rwanda. They are made with all-natural sisal fibers, using an age old basket weaving technique to create lightweight discs that feel elegant to wear. Completing the look, the hoops are fastened onto hypoallergenic earring hooks.
These handmade, fair trade earrings are modern and chic. Made by a co-op of Haitian women from Jubilee, Haiti, each earring represents a great cause. These ladies have dreams of running their own businesses, sending their kids to school, and supporting their families.
Loop earrings are a great asset to any woman’s jewelry collection. Add this pair for a unique and modern touch. Hand-hammered in Haiti, these earrings are a fashionable accessory that will complete your look and empower artisans through fair trade.
Golden grass is a protected resource, and its raw grasses cannot be exported. Only the finished grass products of the indigenous peoples of Brazil can be brought into your home--making these items unique and valuable. It is durable, flexible and lightweight, making it perfect for jewelry.
Not just for ceremony, you can wear these tassel earrings any day you like! And you'll have reason to celebrate when you realize that you've helped women in extreme poverty situations earn a living.
Spring is almost here and it's time to start thinking about shedding our deep, rich colors and exchanging them for bright, airy colors.
Gear up for spring with products from our fair trade shop that evoke a lightness every time you see them.
This tote just screams spring with its bright yellow color. Take this fun, colorful bag with you to the market! It's great for toting around whatever you need—from yarn to books to groceries!
With this bold pop of color, your bed or couch will be automatically ready for spring once you place this pillow on it. Plus, we offer many different shapes and patterns in vivid colors to help brighten up your home.
When it comes to spring, oftentimes it means it is too warm for a jacket but too cold to go without. This lavender shrug strikes the perfect balance.
Pops of light blue and yellow make this necklace ready for your spring wardrobe. Plus the hammered plate says "hope" to represent the artisans who make the necklace. And spring is hope for a new season, a fresh start.
Why leave all of the brightening up to your wardrobe and living room? Add brightness to your kitchen with these sturdy, hand-woven kitchen towels.
These beautiful woven earrings come in a variety of eye-popping colors that seem to say "it's spring!" Plus you can find a bracelet to match.
Flowers are a beautiful part of creation, and have long been used to tell stories, to uplift, and to adorn. A handmade, daisy is perfect for accenting your home and sprucing up your table.
This light blue is reminiscent of a robin's egg and makes you feel ready for spring. It comes in a variety of other colors and made from golden grass, a sustainable source.
No matter your preference or what you're looking for, our fair trade shop has it. And just in time for spring.
More than twenty years ago, in Nyarunguru District in Rwanda, one man used his skills to start something small, but he has since made a big impact on his community. In 1993, Frederic Nyandwi, a husband, father, and skilled woodcarver, decided he wanted to develop his own skills and livelihood, and also train others in the art and profession of woodcarving. He specializes in carving beautiful, decorative items for the home, and he hopes that teaching others the trade will help lift his community out of poverty.
With the support of the Rwandan government, he trained 13 young artisans between 2009 and 2011. At the beginning of 2012, some of these newly trained woodcarvers joined together with Frederic to form an artisans’ cooperative called COASINYA. The artisans with COASINYA hand carve stunning bookends with wood from Jacaranda trees, a tree that grows quickly and grows back even once it has been cut.
COASINYA is one of 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda represented by Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy.
You can support a group of hardworking woodcarvers in Rwanda by shopping fair trade.
The Twivanemubukene, We Come Out of Poverty, Cooperative was started in 2007 with 15 women who came together in order to fight poverty and share skills in handicrafts. These women, many who are widows, were neighbors and members of the same parish, and when they saw a problem, they decided to do something about it as a group. They are united by their faith and determination to bring positive change into their lives.
The artisans with Twivanemubukene specialize in weaving with banana tree and palm leaves. The banana tree leaves are stripped off the sides of the trees, which grow almost like onions, in layers. The leaves can be pulled off without damaging the plant, and then, because they are sturdy, can be turned into almost anything.
Most of the crafting work is done by each member in her own home, but the group meets every Monday and Friday afternoon. With this time, the members work together, practice their skills, teach each other, and encourage one another in all aspects of their lives. They discuss issues such as family planning, and they sing and pray together.
Each week the members make a small contribution to the cooperative, which is used to benefit all the members. They have been able to purchase solar lamps and stoves that use less firewood through an Azizi Life microcredit plan.
Azizi Life, a new member of Jesus’ Economy, represents 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda.
Shopping fair trade is a great way to encourage and uplift people around the world.
In Rwanda, a fair trade cooperative called the Kundagaseke, or “Basket Lovers,” Association is making big waves with their everyday work. By weaving fair trade products, artisans with Kundagaseke are lifting themselves and their community out of poverty.
Weaving goods by hand requires fine skill and a careful eye; in fact, each bracelet takes a full day to create. Though the work takes a lot of time, the 17 women of Kundagaseke love what they do, and are determined to use their business to improve their situations. Their mission is to fight against poverty and to develop themselves.
In addition to weaving baskets, coasters, earrings, and bracelets, the women also farm, and through their work, are able to make enough money to support themselves and their families. They have been able to provide for their basic needs, such as clothes, shoes, soap, and health insurance. Several women have also been able to purchase cell phones and invest in land and domestic animals. This is a huge step that works toward a more stable future in Rwanda for generations to come.
The artisans also use their time together to cultivate an encouraging environment and to discuss unity, culture, and reconciliation. This kind of fellowship and friendship in the workplace is invaluable, and promotes emotional and spiritual wellbeing, in addition to physical security.
The Kundagaseke Association is one of 25 independent artisan groups represented by Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy.
Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, represents more than 400 artisans and 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda. One of these independent artisan groups is the Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative. The Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative began with one woman who had a desire to change the world around her.
Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa saw the poverty in her home and community, and wanted to do something about it. She had weaving skills, and knew she could use those skills to do something about her suffering community. She invited a group of women from around her community to come learn to weave and work toward improving their families’ situations. More than 15 years later, Abaharaniriterambere has 26 women and 2 men working to create functional household items from banana tree leaves and stalks.
The group’s goal is to develop themselves and their community through their art. The income these artisans receive helps them maintain their business, and also provide for the basic needs of themselves and their families. This means that, unlike before, they have access to medical insurance, school materials for their children, soap and cleaning products, healthier foods for a more balanced diet, farm animals, and financial independence.
There is a lot of time to talk when weaving, and members of this group use their time together to exchange advice and discuss important topics such as women’s rights. They also talk about their dream of opening their own weaving house and expanding their business.
With Immaculee as a leader, this group is determined to continue to better themselves and their community, and to stand strong in Rwanda’s vision for a better future. The artisans at Abaharaniriterambere have found fellowship and encouragement among one another, and have seen peace and happiness grow in their homes.
Fair trade makes the world a better place. Be a part of change.
It's a new year and you've decided to reinvent yourself, start fresh. You're making big changes in your life and feeling inspired. Maybe one of those inspirations is to redecorate your apartment or home, or maybe you're planning on moving all together. Whatever it is, we've got the goods to make your new year dreams come true.
These canvas and leather pillows from Haiti come in 2 sizes and 2 different patterns. They're made from locally-sourced canvas and goat leather so you know they'll stand the test of time.
This 36" x 24" mat from Haiti would look great in your bathroom as a shower mat. It is hand woven from goat leather and can be used inside or out.
Woven from recycled cotton fabric strips, this circle rug is sure to brighten up your hallway. The fibers used are their natural colors and made from locally-sourced cotton. This rug can be used inside or outside.
This photo features the beautiful mustard plaid table runner and the violet pinstripe napkin. They are hand woven from 100% cotton by Guatemalan artisans. There are several color and pattern options in our fair trade shop for decorating your table.
Cube storage is the current trend for organizing your home and we have quite a few options to choose from depending on your needs. Made in Rwanda from woven banana tree leaves means these are built to last.
Believe it or not, each bookend is carved from a single piece of Jacaranda wood, which is a tree that grows back after it has been cut down making it a sustainable source. The bookends come in 4 different animals representing the animals of Rwanda.
An unbelievable amount of 4,500 stitches go into just one medium basket. Weavers in Rwanda are careful to create beautiful designs into sturdy, hand-woven baskets. The baskets are flat on the bottom so you can use them as a tray but also include a loop on the back so you can hang them on your wall for a gorgeous work of art.