Meet the Makers
Positively Africana collaborates with makers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and other African countries. We support their businesses and help them become sustainable entities.
Hi! My name is Francine, and I make clothes businesswomen can wear while they change the world. I love seeing women look bold in the clothes I make. My specialty includes suits, blazers, coats, professional dresses, tops, skirts, and more.
I started to make clothes when I was 19 years old after I finished high school. I always wanted to work and support myself financially, so I decided to get professional training in sewing. This allowed me to start my own tailoring business in my hometown of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
I was a struggling artist having trouble providing for myself even though I worked hard every day.
I met Aimee Salmon through her family connection here in the Congo. One of our clients told me that Aimee’s company is creating employment opportunities for African women and artists, especially Congolese women. So, I reached out to Aimee’s mother and sister, and they gave me her contact information. I texted her on WhatsApp; she replied to schedule a phone call. I told her about my passion for making people feel good in the clothes I make and that my specialty is corporate wear. Aimee hired me as her Congolese supplier, and she is paying me more than I can earn, selling only here in Goma. Plus, Africana buys from me in larger quantities!
I can say working with Africana is a game changer, and I can now plan for a bigger future with my own sowing equipment and shop. Thank you, Africana!
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Furaha has lived and raised seven children in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, over the last 40 years. She was educated and worked as a nurse and midwife for her entire adult life, and now she works to support Positively Africana as the company representative in Goma. As our representative, Furaha works to identify possible maker-partners in Goma, as well as support the transportation of our makers’ products to Massachusetts either by managing the shipping or at times traveling with our makers’ products as baggage when she comes to visit our team in western Massachusetts. Furaha is one of our two Congolese-based representatives and is the heart of how we do what we do.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Claude Mudekereza is Positively Africana’s director of strategic initiatives and another representative who lives in the Eastern Congo region of DRC. Claude works to identify and develop innovative opportunities for our company and our African makers, as well as manage our African-side finances and all governmental relations and contractual agreements that are necessary to operate in DRC. Claude has a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s in Innovation and entrepreneurship. We are so lucky to have the expertise he brings to our team.
My name is Sarah Miracle Kandengo, and I am 24 years old and live in the City of Goma, Congo.
My mother was a professional seamstress, and I was lucky that she felt it important to teach me this skill at a young age, and I followed her specific training. I specialized in tailoring and design, so that I also became a professional seamstress. This skill has allowed me to become an independent businesswoman managing my own shop.
Recently, Positively Africana, LLC contacted me to become a supplier, which has helped me to establish myself even more. I am really proud that Positively Africana trusts me to produce products in cloth that represents our culture of Positively Africana origin, that people who are of a different culture or who don’t know our African culture can appreciate and wear. That gives me even more courage and confidence to keep working towards great results. It also gives me ideas to innovate and develop my creativity in African fashion in order to grow my potential and sell our African culture to others.
On top of this, working with Positively Africana also helps me with my economic and financial needs, which allows me to meet the primary and secondary needs of my family, including contributing to the financial responsibilities that my mother has for our family in our country that faces such difficult times due to wars, famines, and security situations.
I am really proud to work with Positively Africana. I am also thankful for this initiative as it promotes me as an ambitious woman whose goal is independence. I hope that in the coming years, I can promise you to go beyond myself to offer you the best. This initiative is a real favor and is so useful to me, especially with the rates of unemployment we have in the DRC. There are no jobs available in the country, but Positively Africana enables me to be independent when a lot of other people are not able to be.
Sarah is making our computer bags, wallets, and purses.
My name is Mary, and I am from Kenya. I am a mother of 3 kids: 1 girl and 2 boys. I am an artist based in Nairobi, Kenya
I started making art at a young age as that was the profession of my parents while I was growing up. My dad had a workshop at our homestead where he and several other artists he had trained made different kinds of ornamental art, like Christmas angels, nativity sets, wooden birds, Father Christmas, etc. After my dad and the other artists were done making the items, my mother, who was a vendor at a famous Maasai market located in Nairobi, Kenya, would take the final product and sell them.
Sometimes I would accompany my mother and assist in selling the products. While there I would meet other artists who were making different kinds of jewelry, and I became interested in learning how to make such beautiful things. So, I learned how to make them and sell them at the same time! 😊 It was perfect for me because I loved what I was doing.
Working and connecting with Aimee Salmon and Positively Africana is a blessing that I am very happy for. She has been a regular buyer of my products and having her as a client has improved my ability to run my business because she introduced us to an additional market that pays a better price for the things that we create. With the support of Positively Africana, my goal is to expand my business and empower more women here in Kenya.
Lots of ❤️❤️❤️ from Mary
My name is Lucienne NSHOBOLE KULONDWA. In order to overcome many of the financial difficulties that come with life in the Congo, I have chosen to learn to be a tailor. I’ve loved sewing since I was young and have trained hard since I was 16 years old. Today, I am able to live off this activity, which allows me to support our family of which there are 9 children, including supporting my younger siblings to study, which costs a fee here in the Congo. Through my business, I earn enough to be financially independent myself.
I now produce items such as bags and things for Positively Africana, and I am very excited about the future of this work. This type of partnership is so important for independent woman business owners like myself because sewing items such as clothing articles and sending them to the United States for resale offers me a greater return than I can get by selling only here in the Congo. This really helps to increase my income and ability to remain an independent business.
This partnership with Positively African has also helped me to improve my skills, so now I also train others and to expand my business. I am currently able to sew uniforms for some of the city’s schools and for some orphanages that have a school. All in all, thanks to my tailoring business and partnerships with Positively Africana, I am able to earn a fair living and support my family.