How do you eat an elephant?

You have probably noticed that sayings such as “vote with your money” and “energy goes where attention flows” are more and more common. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where products come from, who made them and what impact their purchases are having. As a small artisan business we could not be more thankful for this trend. 

Where and how you spend your money matters not only to your wallet, but also to our artisans.  For them, it can literally be a question of food on the table, healthcare for a sick loved one, or schooling for a child. 

Around the Ndara workshop we often refer to an old local proverb: How do you eat an elephant? Well, you eat it one bite at a time.

To change the trend of mass-production and mass-consumption seems like a huge elephant-sized task. While no one can change everything in one go, every little purchase directed to a small and socially responsible company, pushes the needle towards change. (Dont worry - we don’t eat elephants and we are strong supporters of conservation, but you get our point!)

Companies and organizations have a big opportunity to make a difference. A wholesaler decides what they want to sell to retailers, retailers in turn decide what they want to sell to their customers. Event planners have the power to choose what to give away at events, and corporations choose what they want to gift their employees, customers and audiences. Each sales decision drives demand for certain types of products.

The corporate gifting industry in the US alone is estimated to be over USD 240 billion. One of the most efficient ways Ndara can widen its impact is to scale up to fulfill corporate orders. For a small company like ours, in a volatile security context and with increasingly challenging logistics and shipping options, this is a hard task!

But, we believe that with hard work and corporate customers who bear with us through changes in estimated delivery dates, in order to have real social impact in one of the poorest countries in the world, we can make this work. 

One of these supportive customers is the Toledo Zoo  in Ohio, US. The Toledo Zoo is committed to inspiring others to care for animals and conserving the natural world. Their mission is: Enjoy. Inspire. Educate. Act. And boy, did they act when they decided to collaborate with Ndara! 

The Toledo Zoo supports African Parks Network’s Chinko project, in the Central African Republic by funding a research study on hippos in the remote Eastern part of the country. But, The Toledo Zoo did not just stop their support to conservation and employment of Central Africans with this, they decided they wanted to find a way to support artisans in the country too. With Toledo Zoo’s order of Ndara products they created full time work for 10 artisans for five weeks!

That is 2400 hours of work that pays more than 9 times the minimum wage! 

As a way to demonstrate our gratitude to the Toledo Zoo, African Parks’ courageous work, and to show that we are truly committed to spreading the positive impact as far as we possibly can, Ndara decided to donate 5% of the profits from this order back to African Parks for Chinko. Chinko is near and dear to our co-founder Charlotte’s heart, as she and her family were the first to recognize the ecological importance of the basin and work to protect it in 2012. Charlotte was part of the team that led the establishment and management of the protection of the Chinko river basin. Today Chinko is one of the largest employers in the Central African Republic.

Ndara is always on the lookout for collaborations with people, organizations and events that also value empowerment through entrepreneurship, unique handmade products, as well as creating #anotherstory for the Central African Republic. While the logistics are challenging for everyone involved, we are in this together, and the impact you can have with your purchase is, quite frankly, life-changing.