Co-founder of Vayando. Curious about people and their livelihoods, visual storytelling, #SocEnt, and all things travel!
Atlanta native who's spent a big chunk of the last decade managing community, state, to national level agricultural and small business development programs in Latin America and Africa. Internationally, I started out in the Peace Corps, an experience that got me particularly interested in understanding the strategies that marginalized households employ to cope with access to limited resources, and figuring out market based solutions to support them. Through various roles, I've gotten to know almost every corner of South Sudan. I moved back to Atlanta to build Vayando and impact the way we think about travel.
Chris was born in the DRC (Democratic republic of Congo) to a Kenyan father and Rwandan mother. Both parents passed away when he was only five, leaving he and his two brothers to be raised by their grandmother. Chris has been passionate about dance nearly all of his life, having started getting involved at the age of four. He recalls that it was his uncle - now living in South Africa as a singer - who taught him to dance and inspired him. Chris made this his career and dreams of taking dance to another level in Rwanda.
Mama Claudine is a self made seamstress near Muramba, Rwanda. She makes a living off of farming and sewing, and owns one cow. She has three children and has taken in an orphan from the community. Sewing is a good way for her to earn income, send her kids to school, and to help her family and neighbors too. Mama Claudine says she is entrepreneurial because she is motivated to promote her business as well as support others in the community.
Sylvestre is a friendly 73 year old beekeeper living just outside of Muramba, Rwanda, where he was born. He has been working with bees for 23 years. Sylvestre and his wife Josephine have 5 kids and 20 grandchildren. In addition to beekeeping, he farms and produces plantains, casava, sweet potatoes, and beans for sale in the local market and for household consumption.
Born in a neighboring community, Donatha moved to Hindero (village on the outskirts of Muramba) after getting married. She and her husband have been married for 20 years and have eight kids. She is highly motivated and very proud of her craft. She is excited to have visitors and says that it is an honor that someone would come from so far away to learn about Rwanda, and spend time with her and her family.
Maritza likes to stay busy. She is the only farmer in the village and manages her farm mostly by herself. She lives with her partner and son. The neighboring community is small with only 4 houses. Maritza finds enthusiasm in planting and watching her plants grow, organically. She's happiest when she's working with her goats, chickens, animals, trees and crops. Her dream is to have a greenhouse and work in hydroponics. She loves to work in something that is natural. She feels that she can set an example for the community. Most people in the community work in factories and construction in neighboring cities. Maritza believes in the work that she does and she hopes that she can help spread the idea and importance of growing and eating organic.
Don Pancho grew up in San Pedro de Poas. He comes from a family of farmers, however, he considers himself more of an entrepreneur than an agrarian. His family largely worked in the plantations and he wanted to do something different. He is hard working and passionate about environmentalism and community development. His committed to promoting good values in his business, such as reducing waste and chemical-use and providing opportunity for others in the area. He runs the only “mom and pop” small-scale family-run coffee business in the community. His wife helps him with the family business and together they encourage their children to pursue their dreams. The coffee business helps Don Pancho and his wife put their four children through college.
Yakubu was born and raised in the land of thousand hills. Yakubu is a selft-taught photographer and now works as a freelance photographer based in Kigali. He is the co-founder of Kwanda Art Foundation, which helps promote Rwanda’s art community through festivals, workshops, and exhibitions. He travels all over Europe and Africa showing his photographs and has recently been featured on CNN Africa.
Sweet Dreams was developed in partnership with Blue Marble Dreams, the non-profit arm of New York City's Blue Marble Ice Cream. Their mission is to explore ice cream's potential as a catalyst for joy and prosperity. Since Sweet Dream's first opened it's doors in 2010, the shop has provided training and jobs to dozens of women, supported local farmers and producers and provided the community of Butare with a happy space for people to gather and indulge in one of life's sweetest pleasures!
Haute Baso’s two co-founders - Linda and Candi - met in late 2013 through their mutual experience in design and interest to support local communities in Rwanda. Both had backgrounds in international development and fashion and art. Linda was born in the US to Rwandan parents (who worked for the UN) and moved with her family to Uganda in the late 1990s. Linda felt passionately about her home country and moved to Rwanda once the war ended. Candi was born and raised in Belgium. Her father is Rwandan and mother Belgium and Congolese. Feeling a draw to he home, she moved full time to Rwanda in 2009 to contribute to development of the country. Fashion and boutique have always been an interest. She started out drawing clothing designs as a teenager and producing her own clothing line for family and friends a few years later. It wasn’t until 2013 though that she really starting thinking about fashion as a business. With an education in international development, she worked for several years in the public health sector before deciding to go full time into design. The two met in late 2013 after beginning to make a name for themselves in Kigali’s burgeoning fashion scene. Haute Baso was a merger of Haute Rwanda, a company that Linda had launched, and Candi’s company, Baso. After seeing the quality of Linda’s work at varioud exhibitons, Candi reached out to discuss a partnership. Haute Baso started small selling out of the back of their car and on social media. They built their brand by marketing and selling at various exhibitions and opened their design house once they had dialed in quality and were shifting to meet demand. As Linda says “We really started with nothing. It was incredible learning how you can just start with an idea and grow from there. We've received a lot of support from people who want to see us succeed, and it would be great if more people could learn from this and do similar. Its a win when other people are inspired and believe that it is achievable.”