I’ve learned immensely from my time working in development and living across East Africa, but two takeaways have influenced RoHo the most. First, I realized that poverty is an absence of opportunity rather than an absence of material possessions. Who are we without the doors that have opened for us? Regardless of how deserving, intelligent, or our potential, without access to quality education, access to capital, access to information, etc. we are stuck.
The second takeaway is that poverty is a self-reinforcing cycle. If you are born into poverty, you are significantly more likely to end up in poverty than if you were born into privilege. Why is this? If you do not have access to capital you’re constantly having to pay for immediate expenses and cannot save or plan ahead. You have to think in the short term to survive, leaving yourself at a disadvantage in the long run.
So how are we at RoHo using these lessons in our business model? We are increasing access for our artisans – access to capital, access to health care, access to a supportive work environment. We are working to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring our artisans are earning more than those that have come before them. Their lives and their children’s lives are going to be better off.