First Day of School for Kurandza Sponsored Girls!

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In early February, our girls at our partner schools in Mozambique had their first day of school. For many of the girls, it was their first day of school ever and there was a tangible feeling of excitement in the air. We want to share a quick recap of their first day of school so you can join in with the excitement and get to know the girls a little bit better!

This year, we have more than 100 girls across our three partner schools - 12 girls (all of whom are orphans and unable to pay for tuition) in our private preschool run by nuns, and the rest in primary school, and secondary school. We’re still in our first year of this program and are blown away by the number of girls we’re able to support!

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For their first day, things started off slow, intentionally easing the girls into a new year. They received their new uniforms (a requirement to attend school in all schools in Mozambique, even though many of the teachers allowed the girls to attend without them in the past, because of the how poor the village is), backpacks, and other school supplies. Since most of the girls didn’t know each other or the teachers ahead of time, the day consisted mostly of icebreakers and learning each other’s names. The girls’ parents were allowed to stay for most of the day to learn about the teachers and see the supplies their children would be using. There was a lot of dancing, smiling, and laughing, even amid the excitement.

Percina told us a lot about the first day, but there are a few girls in particular who stood out to her.

Ayanda didn’t know anything about school, and since her mom never went to school either, she was very nervous and hesitant to attend in the first place. However, when she saw her uniform and backpack for the first time, you could see a glimmer of excitement light up her face. Percina and the other leaders told her that the uniform and backpack were her’s to use if she decided she’d like to learn. After that, she jumped right in. After seeing her uniform and backpack, she knew she belonged.

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Another girl who stood out to Percina was a tall orphan named Esmenia. At 13 years old, she spoke Portuguese in addition to Changana, the local language, which is uncommon for a girl her age; a sign that she is well-educated. Esmenia is poor, with no mother or father, and has never traveled to the capital city of Maputo, yet she works incredibly hard at school and has already learned how to speak the national language. After their first meeting, Percina could tell that Esmenia hasn’t let her hard upbringing stop her from working toward her dreams and getting an education.

Ayanda and Esmenia aren’t the only girls who have faced hardships. In fact, the majority of our girls have never had the opportunity to attend school because of transportation difficulty, school fees, or their parents' inability to afford uniforms and supplies. Kurandza intentionally chooses the most vulnerable girls in our village, which includes orphans and also girls who may have one or two parents, but who don’t have the means to pay for their school expenses.

You can tell just by looking at the smiles on their faces that our girls are so excited for the chance to attend school. The first day was just the beginning and they’ve already learned so much in a few short months.

Aside from the academic knowledge they’re gaining, our girls are exposed to a simple truth that has the power to change their entire life. Kurandza’s number one objective is to build self-esteem in our girls. Before starting our sponsorship program, we studied the village and learned that there was a startling lack of education and self-esteem, especially amongst the girls and women. This increased the likelihood that the girls would run off or marry the first man who promised them stability because they didn’t see any other option for their future.

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Kurandza aims to give our girls confidence through the knowledge that they have options. With a basic grasp of education and life skills, our girls can grow into women that know their dreams can come true. Currently, many women depend on the men in their lives, without a knowledge of their role or place in the world. We want to help them become empowered to make their own decisions and become their own beautiful, strong, independent people

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The first day was small victory for empowering women and communities in Mozambique and it wouldn’t have happened without your support! We’ll be sharing updates throughout the year, so stay tuned. If you’re as inspired by the first day of school as we are, click here to learn about joining our cause and supporting our Holistic Education program, which teaches our girls skills they need to make their dreams come true.

Women Empowering Women on International Women's Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

At Kurandza, we’re all about celebrating strong women, and more than that, helping women and young girls see that they are strong regardless of cultural bias, education level, disadvantages, and more. 

As a women-led organization, we’re no strangers to the pressure to “prove ourselves” to other businesses and, yes, even to other women. We’re well acquainted with the feeling of not “being enough” and, like most women, are constantly fighting the urge to compare. While we know that everyone’s journey is different, today isn’t about comparison. Today is about celebrating women of all backgrounds, regardless of our differences. Today is about women empowerment and acceptance. Today is about each of us.

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, we want to tell you a few of the stories of our “Kurandza women and girls” - stories that we know will inspire and encourage you too. Kurandza is determined to uplift and empower the women we work with, and what better way than by telling their stories?

Today, we'd like you to get to know Percina, Gina, and our school girls even more: 

Our co-founder and Country Director, Percina, is worth celebrating for so many reasons. Everyone who meets her is instantly in love with her warmth, smile, and passion for life. But, of course, her life hasn’t been an easy one. As is the case for most girls in Mozambique, Percina grew up with limited access to education. The closest school was a ten-mile walk, which she committed to make each day. Percina overcame all odds to become the first girl to graduate from high school in her village and was the starting point of her passion for educating the next generation of girls. Her drive to keep going back then, inspires us to keep going today.

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Gina, our Head Educator is a mother of six - who works incredibly hard to ensure that her children are able to attend school, have clothes and food to eat, and have a chance at a brighter future. She was our Founder, Elisabetta’s, host mom during her time in the Peace Corps and through that relationship, joined the Kurandza team. At first, she used her skills as an artisan to become one of the first women in our Sewing Cooperative. From there, due to her incredible attention to detail and remarkable skill in her work, she became the Production Manager of our Coop. Today, she is a woman of many roles as she teaches fellow community members (and our school girls) about health and leadership skills. She’s an incredibly important leader of Kurandza on the ground in Mozambique and we’re continually in awe of how much she is able to handle.


Most recently, one of our school girls was hesitant to begin school a few weeks ago. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to attend school in the first place. But, when she saw her uniform, brand new and just for her, and a backpack to carry all of her school supplies and books, she changed her mind and her hesitation and nervousness melted into excitement and passion. Now, more than a month into school, she’s enrolled in our Holistic Education program (along with many other girls!) where she has access to after-school tutoring, learns about health, and has the chance to participate in extracurricular activities like soccer, arts and crafts, and yoga. She has the chance to dream of a brighter, empowered future, because of her determination to overcome her fear.

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These are only a few the women Kurandza is committed to empowering (by showing them the value of their own inner-strength) and, we don’t plan to stop anytime soon. With the support of our community - YOU - we’re able to make life-changing differences in the lives of girls and women in Mozambique. And that is something worth celebrating this International Women’s Day!

We’re grateful for a worldwide community of strong, empowered, generous women and wouldn’t be able to do what we do without each and every one of you.  

And most of all, we are proud to be women and we are proud to support women today, and everyday.

What does women empowerment mean to you? Let us know how you’re celebrating today in the comments below!

Giveback Partner Spotlight: Alyssa Coleman

We’re so excited to introduce this month’s Giveback Partner Spotlight! Alyssa Coleman has supported Kurandza since the beginning (she was our first ever Giveback Partner!) and we’ve only grown to love her more during our time working together. An entrepreneurial lady-boss herself, Alyssa has built a brand around empowering women entrepreneurs to grow their business through productivity strategies. She’s helped countless women and we are honored to have her on our team of partners!


Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the interview and then be sure to check out Alyssa’s website and Instagram where she shares daily motivation for lady bosses just like you.

Can you tell us about the backstory of your business? What motivated you to start it?

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I would love to! I started my business as a way to make a bigger impact, I studied environmental policy at university and landed my dream job, (no, not the UN.. the other one) working with a governmental org, within a few months of graduating. I was bright eyed and ready to CHANGE THE WORLD! But I learned pretty quickly that wasn’t the way things worked... I was a small cog in the wheel, and I instantly knew the best way for me to make the impact I wanted, with the freedom I wanted, was to strike out on my own!

Now I’m so fulfilled by helping other female entrepreneurs make a big impact, follow freedom, and make that BIG impact on the world (and their bottom line) in a strategic and productive way.

You’re a “productivity pro”! What are your top tips for someone who struggles with getting things done?

If you are a procrastinator I totally feel for you (I too used to say that I “worked well under pressure” ahem, meaning I left everything until the last minute).

And I have a few tricks to get over that, the first step is to figure out why the heck you’re procrastinating anyway, is something about this triggering you? Scaring you? Is it outside your zone of genius? Do you just downright hate doing it? Instead of wallowing in that guilty place, figure out why it’s happening and do something about it!

Then, if you’re the type who gets easily distracted (ya, I’m looking at you with 15 tabs open right now) then my best trick is to use “The Pomodoro Method” where you turn off everything, including your phone, and you focus on ONE job for 25 straight minutes. Let’s say you want to write a blog post you would close everything except the blank blog post document then set a timer for 25 minutes, bonus points for headphones and some killer tunes, and TRUST me, you’ll get more than you can believe done before that timer goes off! Take a little 5-minute break then get back to it again!

Who is your dream client and what do you help them do?

My dream clients are visionary creatives, influencers, and coaches who are driven as hell and are willing to do whatever it takes to live their lives and run their businesses on their own terms.  I help them create sustainable strategies to run their business productively (meaning, every part of their business is structured to produce their freedom based business) using things like automation, sales funnels, systems, and perfectly planned work-weeks.

You were Kurandza’s FIRST EVER giveback partner! What has been your favorite part of watching Kurandza grow over the last year?

I have been so honored to be on this journey with Kurandza, I believe in your mission and your team more than you can imagine, and I’m so happy to watch MORE badass female entrepreneurs making giveback partners a part of their growth strategy. Female entrepreneurs are changing the landscape of business by including more triple bottom lines, more social awareness, and more impact. I can’t wait to come along for Kurandza’s continued growth in 2018.

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Why is women empowerment important to you?

Empowering women is ESSENTIAL to this world’s evolution, the more women we see in positions of power the more we’re noticing more compassionate, tolerant, and peaceful movements toward our environment our policy our society and our businesses.

There are SO many incredible organizations out there! What made you choose to work with Kurandza?

I was looking for an organization that put an emphasis on creating OPPORTUNITIES for girls and women and put importance on empowerment going hand in hand with investment. Kurandza has continued to make it a no-brainer to work together and is creating new and exciting ways to get involved that I really appreciate.


Click here to read about last month’s Giveback Partner, Clarissa Rodriguez of SheRocks@College!


Are you interested in learning more about our Giveback Partner program? Click here!

Women Empowerment And Community: Why We Love Collaboration

Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
— James Cash Penney

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of collaboration and community. In fact, Kurandza was built on the idea that working together and relying on the strengths of others can improve the lives of people all over the world. We think it has everything to do with our success.

To strengthen our love for collaboration even more, our founder, Elisabetta, recently had the chance to attend The Heart Series conference in Los Angeles, California, and Thrive Conference in Austin, Texas.

Both events are designed to empower entrepreneurs and creatives to grow and increase their impact in the world. Thrive Conference is geared towards bloggers and social media influencers, teaching them how to authentically grow their brand and connect with their audience through collaboration and community. The Heart Series is a conference for socially conscious business owners, men and women alike, to empower them to grow their purpose-driven business and impact.

Not surprisingly, community and collaboration were two of the biggest takeaways of each conference, driving home their importance once more.              

At The Heart Series conference, Elisabetta heard from inspiring leaders in the social enterprise community. Speakers from Pencils of Promise, Everlane, Soko, Thrive Market and more were there, sharing their stories and teaching how to create an impact through businesses and organizations. These stories inspired her to keep chasing her dreams for Kurandza, pushing through feelings of discouragement or fear. She connected with potential partners for Kurandza, met some inspiring business owners, and left feeling encouraged and inspired.  

Here are a few photos so you can re-live the experience too!

The Thrive Conference featured bloggers and influencers like Jane of A Taste of Koko, Dede of Dress Up Buttercup, Ashley Beaudin of The Imperfect Boss and many, many more! Elisabetta represented Kurandza at the conference (We were honored to be the “Non-Profit Partner” of the event!) and had the chance to share our story with over 100 bloggers. The blogging community is a powerful place of passionate women rallying together, and we are so excited to have been able to share about our cause of empowering girls and women in Mozambique. We can’t wait to work with these women again to make a huge impact together.

The Heart Series and Thrive Conference aren't Kurandza’s first events. In fact, we LOVE events like these for the opportunity they present to work with others and meet like-minded business owners, change-makers, and creatives. In 2016 and 2017 we attended the Yellow Conference and our co-founder Percina was even able to join us for last year's event! She connected with some of our supporters and inspirations, like Parker Clay, Hiptipico, and even met Joanna Waterfall, the founder of Yellow. She witnessed overwhelming support for her village back in Mozambique which left her feeling so inspired and excited to keep striving to make an impact!

 

Yellow Conference, similar to the others we’ve attended, is meant to empower women through connection and community. They have events planned all over the country for 2018 and we couldn’t recommend their conference and community more highly!

Our growth hasn’t happened by chance - we’ve grown over the years through intentionally partnering with others who have believed in our mission and whose mission, in return, we are able to support. It’s through mutual connection, relationship building, and finding others who are just as passionate about women empowerment as we are. It’s through working with people like YOU that we inch closer to our dream of empowering women and girls all across Mozambique!


To learn more about joining our community of change-makers, or to chat about creating an awesome collaboration together, email Elisabetta at info@kurandza.org!

Giveback Partner Spotlight: Clarissa Rodriguez of SheRocks@College

Our monthly spotlights of our Giveback Partners is one of our favorite blog posts of the month because it gives a "face to the name" of the people who make Kurandza what it is. Giveback Partners are monthly supporters of Kurandza, either individually, as an organization, or through a retail partnership or event. 

Today, we are so excited to introduce you to Clarissa, the founder of SheRocks@College. Clarissa has an incredible, contagious passion for educating girls that aligns perfectly with our work in Mozambique. We're so honored to have her as a Partner. 

We know you're going to love her too :)


You've been involved with Kurandza since you helped fund our Country Director, Percina's first trip to the US! What is your favorite program we've established, and why?

This last project #IStandForGirls has been my favorite for sure. While I was getting my traditional American education it never occurred to me that it was a privilege. I had no idea that this was a special gift that I had been given. I never knew not everyone received an education. I had no clue that somewhere across the world another little girl was being denied the one thing that should never be taken away from her, her knowledge.

I didn’t learn this truth as deep as I know it now until I was in college. And I could never shake the feeling that the solution to some of our worlds biggest issues was lying in the mind of a girl who was never given the chance to develop the skills to bring it to life. So part of my life’s work is around making sure every girl who wants it has access to an education.

Your business is built to help college-aged women excel in their studies. We think that's incredible! Could you tell us a little bit about the story behind this passion?

I was a first-generation college student, and learning the ropes of getting into college and then just trying to survive and succeed while I was there was tough. My parents didn’t understand it. The education system where they come from is totally different and they grew up in 3rd world country level of poverty so college was never even an option for them.

I struggled.

I failed class after class after class on my road of trying to become an OBGYN, and instead of being encouraged and helped, I was told that I wasn’t smart enough and that I didn’t have what it takes. And that crushed me. Deep down I knew it wasn’t true but those words really stuck with me and were the catalyst for me exploring how to learn.

I don’t believe in the idea that you’re either born smart or not. I believe that every girl has the ability and power within her to become extraordinarily smart regardless of her circumstances, background, and past grades. I created SheRocks@College to equip the next generation of female leaders with the skills that are essential to succeed in college so that they can step out and continue to change the world with their knowledge and talent.

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What is your favorite part of your job?

The transformations. Watching these women go from doubting their brilliance to embodying the pure belief and confidence in themselves, abilities and their future.

Why is educating the next generation important to you?

Most of the students I know think that what I’m helping them do is get A’s and B’s in their college courses. But I know how much deeper my work goes. I know the impact passing their courses will have on their college education and how that will impact their career, income, self-confidence and the life they will go on to live.

I see how each small victory in their classes builds their confidence and strength to overcome any obstacle they might encounter. I see them inspiring and raising up the next generation for success. I’m rooting for them to win in life, not just college.

As one of our earliest Giveback partners, helping fund Percina's first trip to the US, what inspired you to partner with us?

I wholeheartedly believe that women have the power to change this whole world, and it starts by empowering them through education and access to the skills to do it.

Why were you excited to join as a launch team member for our #IStandForGirls campaign last September?

I think often we can forget the true impact our donations have on these kinds of efforts. It’s not just an education it’s a whole family that gets impacted, a whole community, a whole town, a whole country. That bigger vision is what I was excited about.

Through our GiveBack Partnership program, you've donated over $500, which sends one girl to school for an entire year and provides a subsidy to our art teacher for over 5 months! First of all, THANK YOU! Second of all, how does breaking down your impact thus far feel as a donor and sponsor?

It feels amazing to me because of what it makes possible for these girls. I’m more excited about the impact this one girl I helped sponsor will make in the world than the impact I’ve made.

If you weren't running SheRocks@College, what do you think you'd be doing?

I’d probably be a full-time nurse and dedicating a part of my life to volunteering as a medical professional in other countries. Access to basic needs and skills is really important to me and I think I will always be drawn to the kind of work that makes sure that happens.

And just for fun, what are a few things most people don't know about you?

  • I am obsessed with late 1940’s and early 1950’s fashion and decor. I own way too many clip-on earrings even though my ears are pierced because that was part of the style in that era.
  • I’ve watched Mad Men from start to finish a total of 8x. There are 7 seasons so, yeah. That’s a little crazy.
  • Every month I buy a slice of this death by chocolate cake at a local mom and pop restaurant and I refuse to share it with my husband.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BECOMING ONE OF OUR GIVEBACK PARTNERS? FILL OUT THIS FORM AND WE WILL BE IN TOUCH SHORTLY!

Kurandza's Top Ten Goals for 2018

A few weeks ago we shared our Impact Report thus far, and, as inspiring as it is to look back on what we've been able to accomplish with the help of our supporters, we are even more excited to look forwardWe are almost a month into 2018 and we think it's the perfect time to keep the momentum of a new year going by making our goals public.

Whether you're new to Kurandza, a Giveback Partner, a donor for our #IStandForGirls campaign or anything in between, we hope you're inspired and encouraged by our goals. AND we would love to invite you to join us in making them a reality!

In 2018 we Plan To:

 

1. DOUBLE the Impact of our #IStandForGirls2018 Campaign 

As many of you know (because you were a part of it!) in 2017, we raised funds to give school scholarships to more than 100 girls. Through your support, these girls received not only school fees, but everything they need to thrive during and after school as well! The girls will begin school in February, and soon, you'll get to see your donations in action. For 2018, we plan to more than double the number of girls we send to school via the #IStandForGirls2018 Campaign!

(If you'd like to join the launch team for this year's campaign, click here!)

2. Support our Partner Pre-School

One of our partner schools, the pre-school we partner with in Southern Mozambique, is in desperate need of a face lift. This year, we plan to build new dormitories and bathrooms for them, as well as repaint the classrooms.

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3. Add to our list of products sold by our Sewing Cooperative

Our very first program in Mozambique is still in action. Despite a few recent setbacks to the cooperative's equipment, we plan to add more funding for this project to keep it growing. For 2018, we hope to expand the product line, adding more types of totes, handbags, clutches and more. This cooperative provides a sustainable income for the women employed, so expanding with new products means more income for these ladies!

4. Employ even more women in the community

Our sewing cooperative isn't the only way we've created jobs in Guijá. We're always looking for new ways to employ the women in the community. We are hoping to give even more women the opportunity to work as tutors, health educators, counselors, art teachers, and dance instructors through the implementations of our Holistic Education Program in the village.

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5. Start several more small businesses to further drive commerce for the community

We aren't afraid to dream big! One of our first projects was to build a convenience store, which provided income for an entire family. Our goal is to continue to promote the establishment of small, family-run businesses in the area to encourage community growth. Our women's current ideas include a produce stand, a hair salon, and a meat market business. 

6. Continue preventing the transmission of HIV to hundreds of babies through our Nutrition Program

Our Nutrition Program is one of our most successful and important programs in Mozambique. What started as a campaign to provide emergency food aid during the hunger crisis (our #FeedMozambique campaign) has grown into a sustainable program that provides families, HIV+ women, and children with the education they need to stay healthy. 

7. Fund Percina's trip(S) to the US!

In 2016 and 2017, our co-founder Percina was able to travel to the U.S. to attend conferences with Elisabetta and meet some of our biggest supporters! This year, we are hoping to bring her back TWO times, to participate in conferences, meet donors, and make new friends. Percina has overcome so much and traveling to the US is not only incredibly exciting for her, but gives her the opportunity to share her story with others, speak at events, and add momentum to our campaign launches.

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8. Double our Giveback Partner number! 

Our Giveback Partners are the backbone of our organization. Through their support, we're able to raise awareness and money for the work we do in Mozambique. The bigger our Giveback Partner base, the more we're able to accomplish! We're hoping to partner with even more women-leaders and entrepreneurs to create even more change this year! 

(If you're interested in learning more about our Giveback Partner program or signing up, click here!)

9. Grow our US Based team

Even though the majority of our team is on the ground in Mozambique, we are hoping to strengthen our presence in the US by adding a few more members to our team. So far, Elisabetta has hired two new team members, a graphic designer, and a bookkeeper, and hopes to grow our team even more. Growing our team allows Elisabetta to spend more time creating new programs and working on the ground with the women we serve.

10. Host our First Ever Empowerment Trip!

We are SO excited about this goal. Although the details are yet to be released, we can't wait to tell you more. Community is one of Kurandza's most valued tools- we love facilitating events and organizing ways for women to come together to be inspired and make a difference together. Our Empowerment Trips will do just that. Stay tuned!

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These goals are only possible through the support of our incredible community. We have big dreams for Mozambique, and we can't wait to partner with you to make them come true!

Kurandza's Impact Report

In a short time, Kurandza has come a long way. If you follow us on Instagram, you have heard a bit about our founder, Elisabetta, and our Country Director, Percina's stories. Just in case you missed it, we will sum it all up by saying that Kurandza hasn't come to fruition overnight. Years of hard work, dreaming, and collaboration has led us to where we are today. 

As 2018 opens its blank, fresh pages, we have big dreams that we can't wait to carry out. And first, before we can move forward, we think it's important to look back. 

This post is all about our Impact thus far. Since our very beginning as a women's sewing cooperative, until this year, sending more than 100 sweet girls to school. Looking back inspires us to keep pushing forward. 

Here's to an inspiring, impactful 2018!

Because of you, we've...

- created a women's sewing cooperative to provide income for HIV+ women:

One of our very first projects as a non-profit in Mozambique came as the result of Elisabetta's time working with the Peace Corps counseling HIV+ women. She created this cooperative to provide the women she had worked with for two years with a means of earning a living. This project has helped these women pay for transportation to reach the hospital every month and stay on their HIV treatment, improve their homes by upgrading from mud to bricks, and straw roofs to tin roofs, even buying their own dishware or bedding for the first time in their lives. They're also able to participate in community savings clubs, and send their children to school! 

- built a convenience store with a family in the community:

In partnership with a family in a neighboring town, we helped fund the construction of a convenience and grocery store. The store encourages local economic growth, creates jobs in the village, and eliminates the need to travel often to the nearest city. Not only does this store provide assistance to the community as a whole, but it provides a source of income to a family. Since it's construction, the family has used their profit to purchase more bottles (everything is recycled in Mozambique and sodas and other beverages are cased in glass bottles that are turned in when you want to purchase more-- no bottles, no beverages!) and build a veranda so that people can sit out and enjoy a drink even when it's raining! Since their start, Percina taught the family about inventory management and bookkeeping so that they could continue to grow their business. 

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- developed a Nutrition Program via our #FeedMozambique Campaign:

In 2016, we launched our #FeedMozambique campaign as a response to the hunger crisis in Mozambique. With the help of generous donors from all over the world, we raised more than $7,000 to provide meals to more than 35 families as well as HIV prevention training to nursing mothers in the area. We established a Nutrition Program (which still exists to this day) to educate HIV+ mothers and provide them with safe formula if they decided to stop nursing their babies. Finally, we also helped families plant gardens and distributed seeds, to encourage a sustainable, renewable food source. 

-raised funds to send more than 100 girls to school through our first #IStandForGirls Campaign: 

Most recently, and perhaps most impactful, our #IStandForGirls campaign in September 2017 raised funds to send over 100 girls to school! Their sponsorship includes tuition, uniforms, transportation, meals, after-school care, and school supplies. Our Holistic Education program provides girls with the opportunity to dream about a bright future. 

In a few years, here's what we've accomplished so far: 

  • 9 women learned to sew through our Sewing Cooperative. They also learned about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and health.
  • 35 families received emergency food aid during the hunger crisis through our #FeedMozambique Campaign.
  • An entire family was employed through the convenience store and the village's economy was improved. 
  • 200+ babies participated in our nutrition program, allowing them to have safe food while their mother continued treatment for HIV.
  • 100+ girls received scholarships to attend school through our #IStandForGirls campaign. They also received access to our Holistic Education Program, providing them counseling, after-school care and more. 

We're dreaming about an even BIGGER and more IMPACTFUL 2018 - Will you join us? 

Click here to learn about our Education Program and how you can get involved!

Giveback Partner Spotlight: Janna Barker of Isiko

Although Kurandza's work is in Mozambique, people from all over the world are involved in our mission to make education accessible to all girls. One of the most exciting aspects of our social enterprise is cultivating a community who values our mission and, in turn, getting to support them and their work as well. 

Our Giveback Partners are some of our most valuable community members for their commitment to supporting our cause. They help spread the word and pledge to donate a portion of their own business revenue to help our girls. We want you to know just how awesome our Giveback Partners are, so starting today, we are introducing a new series of interviews where we showcase each Giveback Partner, allowing you to get to know them and support them in the same ways they support us. 

First up, Janna Barker, the founder of the online artisan marketplace Isiko. Janna's business is as inspiring as it is beautifully curated and we can't wait for you to learn a little bit more about her. 


How did your brand begin? Can you tell us a little bit about the background of Isiko? 

For years I have wanted to provide a platform for traditional artists from around the world to showcase their cultural arts to the rest of the world.  I reached a point in my life where I was at a crossroads and could start over. I decided it was time to go after this dream.

What does Isiko mean and what is the name's significance for the mission of your brand?

Three years ago, I returned from a memorable stint with the Peace Corps in Swaziland.  "Isiko" means "art/tradition/culture" in SiSwati.  The name really embodies what my brand is about--keeping the traditional arts existing in cultures around the world. 

You were a member of our launch team for the #IStandForGirls campaign (thank you!!), what was your favorite part of the campaign and what are you excited about for our 2018 campaign?

I always have a little sign at my craft shows that tells people a percentage of my sales goes to the I Stand for Girls campaign.  At one particular event, a young lady came up to my booth, browsed a bit, then picked out an item and said she wanted to buy it because she knew what it felt like to be one of those girls!  She was able to attend school in Africa due to the support of strangers who sponsored her school fees.  She is now finishing high school in San Diego where she lives with her adopted parents.

In addition to being a Giveback Partner, you were one of the few who got to meet our co-founder Percina during her time in the US. How did meeting her impact your vision of Kurandza and our work in Mozambique?  

Percina is a wonderful, sweet and delightful person.  With Percina leading the efforts in Mozambique I know things are in good hands.  Hearing her tell her story is comforting to know that she understands the challenges that the girls face, having been through it herself and having the determination and smarts to graduate herself.  She will not only be an inspiration to the girls and the I Stand for Girls partners but is an inspiration to me as well. 

Can you explain a bit about the process of choosing artisans to partner with?

The artisans I choose to partner with are people who keep an element of tradition in their work.  Whether that is the methods in which they create a piece or the materials they use.  Having this element in the art Isiko carries is important because I believe culture can be learned through its art.  Unfortunately, many of the traditional arts are dying out due to globalization and artisans moving to bigger towns to find jobs to provide for their family. 

Click here to support shop Isiko's incredible selection (and, in turn, support our girls in Mozambique!) 

What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome when starting a socially conscious business? 

I've been pleasantly surprised to see that instead of facing challenges as a socially conscious business, I've been met with positive support in my mission of giving back.

We love that you're one of our Giveback Partners. What drew you to our mission initially and why do you value girls' education? 

I actually learned about Kurandza from a mom blog (full disclosure, I am not a mother, haha! I was looking into social conscious brands and the blogger had posted a list of her favorites.). After looking into Kurandza a little bit I learned that Elisabetta is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Having this in common, and seeing her actually do something similar to my passion, I reached out to her, in hopes to talk Peace Corps stories and learn about what it was like to run a social enterprise. 

I value a girls education because I know that given the opportunity they can grow up to become influential leaders.  They have the capacity in themselves to not only lead others but to make a difference and create an impact among their community. 

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Where do you see your business in five years?

My Isiko hopes are to develop a place for artisans to thrive, showcase their work, and in turn, bring the customer's appreciation and recognition to the artisan's culture. 

And lastly, just for fun, what is something that most people don't know about you? 

Even at a young age I was fascinated with other cultures; I lived most of my formative years in the Philippines and majored in Anthropology in college. 


Want to learn more about becoming one of our Giveback Partners? Fill out this form and we will be in touch shortly!

3 Non-Material Gift Ideas That Give Back

Christmas is only a few days away (eeeek!) and more than likely, you've been swamped with gift guides and sales and are just about "shopped out" for the season. Or, maybe you're one of the last-minute shoppers who hope to gather some quick inspiration for meaningful gifts that won't end up in the garage sale pile after a few months. We have four words for you: gifts that give back.

Whether you're simply a pro-procrastinator, a minimalist when it comes to gift giving, or you've been waiting for "just the thing" to give your loved ones, we have a few ideas that won't add clutter to anyone's lives and, more than that, can actually change a life. 

Non-material gifts don't get the hype that they deserve for a few reasons- they can't be unwrapped or placed under a tree, and to some (young kids especially) they seem like a bit of a letdown, compared to the thrill of a fancy, new gift from your wish-list. 

However, we are huge proponents of choosing at least one gift that gives back for someone on your list this year- regardless of their age or the length of their wish-list. Non-material gifts, things like sponsoring a child's education, providing water to areas who don't have easy access, or even a simple donation to a social enterprise or non-profit that the recipient values, can be life-changing. 

Non-material gifts don't always get the hype they deserve, but whether its for your child, a relative, or your best friend, choosing to give them a gift that gives back will keep the holiday cheer going long after the presents are unwrapped.

Here are a few of our favorite non-material gift options that will continue to make an impact long after the craze of the holidays has passed. 

1. Sponsor A Girl's Holistic Education

There are lots of amazing social enterprises out there making a difference in children's education all over the world, but, of course, we're partial to our sweet girls in Mozambique. During our #IStandForGirl's campaign, we raised funds for school supplies, tuition, and transportation to school for more than 100 girls. Our current holistic education program provides the same girls with access to empowerment programs, after-school tutoring, health education, and more.

Sponsoring a child's education is the perfect gift for children and adults alike: it presents the perfect opportunity to teach a child about their ability to help others, and open their eyes to issues that many other kids, just like them, face every day. 

To sponsor one of our girls via a monthly (or one-time) donation, click here!

2. Volunteer Together in Your Community 

Another more "hands-on" idea is to donate your time, volunteering at a local homeless shelter, charity, or other socially conscious organization. Not only is it healthy to spend time helping others, but it can make a needed difference in the lives of people in your community. 

You could visit a local senior center together, to sing Christmas carols, decorate cookies, and spread cheer. Or, you could send holiday cards to prison inmates, those in pediatric hospitals, or hospice care. 

This idea is a very inexpensive way to give back on a personal level to those who don't have access to their normal holiday traditions and may feel isolated during the "most wonderful time of the year". Usually, the smallest gifts have the most impact. 

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3. Donate to A Cause You Both Care About In Their Name

Less specific than sponsoring a child's education is making a general donation to a non-profit or social enterprise making changes in the world that you (and the gift-ee) care about. It can be an anonymous donation or, better yet, a donation in their name, to encourage them to follow along with the progress of the organization to see how their gift made an impact.

Do you both care about the global water crisis, environmental sustainability, women's rights, or education? Find a cause that the giftee is passionate about that you can stand behind and choose to donate to the cause on their behalf. 

If you're passionate about women's rights and girls education, click here to support Kurandza. If you're passionate about other causes like economic development, agriculture and food sustainability, or water, health and sanitation, check out Global Dream Collective's list of favorite organizations making a real difference in the world. 


Gift giving doesn't have to be complicated or cluttered. Whether it's for a child, an old friend, or a distant relative, giving a non-material gift in honor of a cause you support is a gift that will keep on giving all year long. 

2017 #IStandForGirls Campaign Recap

We did it! In two months we successfully secured scholarships for over 100 girls in Mozambique! We reached (and even surpassed!) our goal of providing school fees, books, uniforms, backpacks, and transportation to 100 vulnerable girls so that they will be able to get an education in Mozambique!

We surpassed our goal because of the amazing Kurandza community of supporters and this post is meant to give everyone involved a recap of what their participation helped achieve and say a huge THANK YOU to each and every person involved. 

But first, a little bit of background about the #IStandForGirls campaign.

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It all started with the #IStandForGirls launch party in San Francisco. Percina, our Co-Founder from Mozambique, was here for the party, which allowed local supporters to meet her and hear her inspiring story.

At the party, we held a "Do Good Marketplace" featuring brands like Sseko, Beauty Counter, and doTerra essential oils - each donating 20% of the proceeds to Kurandza’s #IStandForGirls campaign. Talk about generosity.

We also had some incredible swag bag and raffle sponsors like Isiko, Timshel Living, Whole Foods Market, and Zeal Living! Thank you also to Radiant Co-working space for sponsoring our venue, and SnapFiesta for sponsoring the beautiful photobooth!

Were you at that Launch Party? THANK YOU for attending! We can't wait to see you again next year. 

After the event, the campaign launched full-force on social media, and it wouldn't have been a success without the help of SO many amazing people from all over the world who joined in to share about our campaign and spread the #IStandForGirls campaign love around. 

We had multiple types of sponsors and want to take a moment to thank them all personally here. Be sure to check out each of their wonderful businesses, blogs, brands, and more. 

A Special Thank you to everyone who partnered with us in multiple ways to make this campaign a success: 

Thank you to our Giveback Partners for your commitment to support Kurandza: 

Click here for more information on how to become a Giveback Partner!

Thank you to everyone who Sponsored one of our more than 100 girls during the campaign and those who made a onetime donation: 

a big thank you to everyone who wrote about our campaign on their blog: 

If you partnered with us by sharing in other ways, like Instagram stories, Facebook posts, and of course, word of mouth, we can't thank you enough!

And finally, a HUGE thank you to the talented ladies who created the beautiful graphics and photos for our campaign:

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The success of our first #IStandForGirls campaign is proof that our community is powerful and that when so many incredible people unite, real lives of girls who need your help are changed. 

Now, who is ready for NEXT YEAR?!