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Fair trade, hand-embroidered gifts from Rwanda

In 2012, two French sisters, Veronique and Pascale, came to the village of Rutongo to visit a group of local women. Before the 1994 genocide, Belgian nuns had taught these women to do specialty embroidery.

After hearing their stories and understanding their history, the sisters knew that if they could open new markets for the women's embroidery skills, they could be lifted out of their precarious circumstances. They named their social enterprise Ibaba, which means “wing” in Kinyarwanda. The Ibaba logo also embodies the wing and symbolizes taking flight again after so many years.

After nearly seven years in Rutongo, Ibaba is restoring economic autonomy for 33 women who have completed training in embroidery. Each member is encouraged to take responsibility within their cooperative, named CORUM, and develop a greater sense of being an important part of the Rutongo community.

From the first embroidery stitch to the last sewing point, these hand-embroidered gifts are meticulously crafted. Each article is unique and requires several days of work, often using linen sourced from Belgium. These gifts are all produced with an ethical fair trade policy. Working in the cooperative creates economic independence for the members, allowing them to support their families on the wages they earn.

Four Ibaba employees make hand-embroidered gifts at a table

Ibaba hopes to raise funding to complete a small education center that will allow for the training of 70 village women annually.

A close-up of a sample hand-embroidered gift of the Peace by Piece International logo

At Peace by Piece International, we are proud to offer Ibaba's hand-embroidered gifts. With such extraordinary skills, these artisans can create fun, quirky designs or recreate corporate logos on joyful batik prints.

Photos via: IBABA

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