Rita Nakandi | Helping East African artisans find a market for their products – The Boston Globe

Posted November 18, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Art ~ 5,436 views


By Cindy Cantrell — Ritah Nakandi, who emigrated from Uganda, formed the collective to help East African women support their families. Ritah Nakandi, who emigrated from Uganda, formed the collective to help East African women support their families. Before coming to the United States to pursue graduate studies in 2006, Ritah Nakandi was a member of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association through which she trained, mentored, and counseled artisans to start and grow businesses selling their handcrafted goods. Despite tremendously hard work and creativity, however, they inevitably encountered the same problem: a limited market for their products.

The Newton resident, who has since earned a master’s degree in in pastoral ministry at Boston College and an MBA at Cambridge College, remains committed to helping East African women support their families through skills passed down for generations. Nakandi, who is also cofounder and recruiting director for Meetcaregivers, launched the Afri-root Collective in June 2013 to sell their wares online and at craft shows. A portion of each sale is reinvested to train others, especially women, to develop their own artistic skills and work toward sustainability.

Q. What are some examples of your products?

A. My bestseller is a set of six placemats plus a table runner made from natural raffia fiber and colored viscose threads. Customers love their uniqueness and patterns. I also sell a lot of handbags made from fig tree bark, with hand-stitched designs. We have various products that are beautifully made. My goal is to get some of them in stores.

Q. How do customers find you?
A. Shows are listed on the website, and I send e-mails to let customers know when I’m coming back to their area. A number of people return to support me. It’s the best feeling.

Q. What about your business resonates so strongly with customers?

A. The artisans in Uganda are single mothers or grandmothers caring for their grandchildren, victims of domestic abuse, or are living with HIV. They practice the same art forms that have existed for 600 years, without electricity. There is no free education, so without an income, their kids cannot go to school.

Q. What keeps you going?

A. The workload involved is challenging, but I love it because I am making a difference in someone’s life. I know what the women in my country go through, so whatever helps them put food on the table, I will do.

The Afri-root Collective is exhibiting Nov. 19 at Brookline Arts Center from 12 to 3 p.m., and at the Waldorf School of Lexington holiday fair on Dec. 1, 7 to 9 p.m., and Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit

Source — The article above first appeared in The Boston Globe a leading Newspaper in the USA.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    Amazing. Great job Rita 🙂


    Dear Madam Rita Nakandi,
    Thanks for promoting the east african women products that help the youth,disabled who are the majority and weaker section in society economically to be empowered through export market Access. We are in the same business and would like to cooperate with you .
    We can be visited about our products and services for export worldwide by searching for moses magala and co ltd on facebook , youtube and at

    We shall be very happy to do business with or send us orders or introduce us to bulky buyers or as you may so wish.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Thanks in advance.
    kind Regards,
    Moses Magala semakula


    This is amazing I like it , hopefully men can also benefit..

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