"In December 2009, I had an opportunity to travel to Kenya for three weeks through a study abroad program for my Master of Science degree in International Public Service from DePaul University. When considering why I chose Kenya, I must be honest and say that it was because I knew that it was only 6 hours away from my homeland, Tanzania, and more importantly I will have an opportunity to visit my grandmother.
Never in a million years did I think that I would fall in love with Kenya. I visited several women's cooperative organizations, but one organization, in particular, stirred up something inside of me: The Kibera Paper Project (KPP).
"This organization makes greeting cards using recycled materials. Meeting the women of the Kibera Paper Project changed my life and confirmed the one thing I had always known - in Africa with hope, determination, and hard work it can be done. I ended my journey filled with both excitement and frustration because I was confused about the next step. While my trip to East Africa ended, my contribution towards the economic development in Africa was just beginning. As an African woman, I understand my responsibility towards it.
Early 2010, I began volunteering with KPP helping the organization sell its cards here in the United States. Within months of selling cards to family members and friends, I realized that my involvement needed a strategic plan. As a result, the formulation of ILAVA: It Can Be Done! came into existence.
Our Story Continues
"Today, ILAVA is a thriving social enterprise and lifestyle brand. Our collection has expanded to include lifestyle fashion, jewelry, handmade cards, and home decor - all with our signature style celebrating a fashion-forward African aesthetic.
Our partnerships with organizations bringing economic and educational opportunities to women and girls have grown along with our business. Learn more about our current partner projects.
Our story shows it can be done!"
-Rahel Mwitula Williams, founder