On September 8, 2023 All Across Africa organized one of its big annual events in Rwanda ‘All Across Africa’s 2023 Annual Big Event’. This event took place in the Southern Province of Rwanda, Ruhango district and it gathered around 1500 women weavers. It aimed to celebrate artisans’ successes and showcasing their accomplishments.
Over a decade ago, AAA has officially been operating in Rwanda and since then it has been one of the leading companies that globally drive social economic changes of lives through the ethical production of woven products.
Greg Stone, Co-founder and CEO recalls a story that happened to him when he arrived in Rwanda, two decades ago “I first came to Rwanda 20 years ago. Learning the sad story of this country, I wanted to see what I could do to help people. While I was in a hotel thinking of where to invest, two ladies met me at hotel with two beautiful products and asked me to buy them. I bought these two baskets and took them back to US with me. Wherever I went, I used to take them with me. All people that I meet while sharing coffee or cheering, they were asking me the question that I wanted to hear: ‘where can we find these beautiful products? From that time, I came back and started working with weavers in Rwanda, in few years we had 1,200 weavers. It could not be possible alone; it took a committed team. With the increase of customers, the groups of weavers expended to over 5,000 artisans, we went from shipping one container to 15 containers in a month. I thank all partners, weavers and strong and committed team here in Africa and in the US. It always requires a team to succeed.’
Artisans who attended the event were happy and highlighted how All Across Africa changed their lives. Berthilde, a mother of six said " Before AAA came to our area, life was so difficult, I was living and sleeping in the same house with small domestic animals. I started working with AAA in 2012, ever since I have been working hard and was able to earn good money through selling my baskets. With time, we kept receiving many orders and that completely changed my life. I have built two more houses in which I live with my children family and another one for animals. I bought a cow that produces more cows, gives milk and fertilizers to crops. I have brought electricity to my home, I watch television with my family, I pay medical insurance, all my children are in school and we have enough food, we live a happy life and my family is respected in the community.”
Coop representatives also extended their gratitude to the leadership and the entire team of AAA for impacting lives of weavers in Rwanda. “We recognize all the efforts you have invested in finding customers for our products. We are very committed to weave and we wish to do more. Look around all the women you and Alicia have impacted. Our children are in schools up to colleges, we sleep in strong and nice house, health insurance is well covered, hunger is no longer in our homes, to mention but few. These artisans around here, are all happy grateful and with their families for the markets, and they are praying for blessings over your and customers lives. This is only a sample of weavers that are in different areas of the country. The whole community is happy and the life has considerably improved because of AAA. Let Alicia (who is not here today) know we love her; we are grateful and we need more markets.”
On the behalf of all artisans they represent, coops representatives handed a trophy to Greg as a symbol of success and victory achieved together.
Mayor of Ruhango Dictrict, Valens Habarurema appreciated the good partnership and leadership of AAA and promise to do more to make sure there is good working environment in this area. He recognized the impact of AAA on weavers lives especially in this district and said that basket weaving is the leading economic activities that employees many people in this district. He says that this district will be recognized as the capital district of weaving heritage in Rwanda, representing Rwanda and known in the world. He especially appreciates on how Greg keeps coming to him asking for what can be done to improve more lives of people through weaving baskets. He promised to keep good up the team work to make sure AAA operates in good conditions with the support of local leadership, and what is needed, will be done to support AAA. He also encouraged weavers to make good quality and keep working hard to keep customers.