Africa Bags was started by Todd and Holly Petitt in January of 2007 as a grass roots organization with the hope of making a change in the world. Here are some of the ideas we created our organization from:
- We want the charity to be transparent. It is important to us that if some one donates or buys a product from Africa Bags that they know their money is going directly to the people that need it.
- We want to do something that empowers the people we are helping. Instead of giving them charity, we want to give them a chance to help themselves. We want to do something that will continue on after the initial investment has been made. Once an Africa Bag has been produced and sold, the money from the sale of that bag will purchase the material needed for the next bag to be made and provide a sustainable income for the village that made the bag.
- We want to do something that is non-denominational. We want to include those from all religions that wish to help, donate or purchase our products.
- We want to create a product that could benefit those that buy it. A cloth shopping bag purchased from Africa Bags will help reduce the need for plastic shopping bags. The cloth shopping bag is gaining popularity world wide and has increased in use in the United States. The creation of a single use plastic shopping bag wastes the earth’s non-renewable resources. The disposal, and degradation of plastic bags increases pollution, releasing toxic chemicals into our environment.
Our Africa Bags team:
Our team of supervisors in Malawi is made up of three individuals. Maggie Chavula, Chief Nyuma Chimaliro, and Head Tailor Dorothy Luwanda. Maggie has a background in book keeping and accounting. We have also found she is an essential part of the team in communicating with the ladies in our sewing groups. Culturally women are somewhat sub servant to men in Malawi and are many times separated from the men in formal settings. Maggie is able to communicate with the women in the Africa Bags groups in a way that men often cannot.
We have also hired Maggie Chavula and Chief Chimaliro to oversee production in the Kamweko and Viweme villages. These two are from these villages and already have a natural connection to the people. They are respected by the villagers and have been quite helpful in taking care of the villagers on a day to day basis. Mr Chimaliro has a great deal of experience in logistics and purchasing materials.
When our head tailor, Dorothy, joined the Africa Bags team back during the inception of the project in 2007. Dorothy had absolutely zero experience in the trade. She dedicated herself to mastering this new skill, trained hard and quickly earned the title of our most skilled tailor. Today Dorothy travels to all villages within the Africa Bags project to teach them new skills or to train them on new bags.
As you can see the experience of these three individuals complement each other nicely. Most importantly, they all three have a heart for the people of Malawi and have the success of Africa Bags as their number one priority.