It all came together through a little seed of an idea that was shared in casual conversation. Betsie Everritt, a designer who works with the Umucyo Sewing Cooperative, More than Sparrows, and Belay Global’s DuHope, had a vision of opening a shop in Kigali to sell their products. Jamie Boiles, Executive Director of Belay Global, asked Betsie her advice about opening a shop where they could share expenses and resources, and that’s when the seed began to sprout.
Umucyo had a location next door to their shop, so together they worked out all the logistics. Then taking a step further, they asked More Than Sparrows to join. Now with three co-ops all in, the final touch was the storefront. By the Lord’s provision, one of the Belay Global board members, Loree Johns, owner of Loree Johns Interiors, was in the country at their time of need. She used her creativity to provide a bright and beautiful space to showcase the merchandise. (Read her full story on working in The Shop.)
On August 20th, The Shop launched in the Kacyiru Sector in Kigali. Grand opening day was a celebration as people gathered to shop and talk as they enjoyed baked goods sold by J. Lynn’s, another Christian organization helping women break out of the cycle of poverty. Vibrant colors popped with all the products on display. The shelves lined up with women’s accessories like jewelry and handbags to household items such as dish towels, shower curtains and lemongrass soap.
“So many people are trying to do the same thing on their own, but when we work together, we realize how much stronger we become… which in turn helps more women,” said Boiles. “My motto for The Shop is: teamwork makes the dream work. We all have these big dreams and come from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, but bringing the three organizations together just makes sense,” she said.
These three independent co-ops equally share ownership of this new retail establishment. The goal is to provide sales and marketing to better these women’s livelihoods, but the partnership also springs forth opportunities to work together for soft skills training. For example, one organization might not be able to afford a full time Counselor, Literacy or English tutor, but together they can share the expense and the women can benefit of this shared resource. And there are many other options for partnership, but those are seeds that will soon sprout as these co-ops begin working together.
About The Shop
The storefront will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. The store is located just below the Kacyiru sector office.
About the Co-Ops
More Than Sparrows gives women an opportunity to create beautiful things with their hands and helps restore their dignity. www.thesparrowstudio.com
DuHope, a ministry of Belay Global, creates a safe and holistic way for women to exit sex work while walking alongside them in faith, hope, love and dignity. www.belayglobal.org
Umucyo is a sewing cooperative of 17 talented seamstresses.