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The Ndara Story

The Ndara Story

The idea of Ndara (pronounced en-dara) was born when Charlotte became frustrated with the world’s perspective on the Central African Republic (CAR) following the civil war that broke out in 2013. Born and raised in CAR, Charlotte did not recognize her home country in the stories of a bloody conflict and a violent people that the international media portrayed. Even though Charlotte knew firsthand that the stories of violence were true, she also knew there was another parallel, and defining, story of the country. A story of resilience, strength and bravery against all odds. She decided she wanted to tell the other story. Another story of CAR and its resilient people. Ndara was born. A company that would provide stable, professional work opportunities for Central African artisans while using its public platform to share the joy, resilience, beauty and creativity of Central Africans with the world.

Charlotte developed the first Ndara product; a rug braided using local fabric. She taught the skill to a group of women that she gathered by word of mouth. Through trial and error they perfected the rug in a makeshift workshop at Charlotte’s home in Bangui, the capital of CAR. Racey, a friend, joined Charlotte and set up the company’s structure in the US and its web shop . Soon, the Ndara artisans started to develop other products with the scraps of fabric from the rug production. Within six months Ndara started selling out of products. Ndara grew organically and today, 5.5 years after its creation, Ndara employs 14 artisans full time, has a permanent workshop and has opened up a boutique in Bangui. The boutique is fully managed by the local Ndara team. Thanks to weekly classes in literacy, math and leadership, the artisan women who could not read and write when they joined Ndara, now manage invoices, inventory and the till.

Ndara means to be skilled in Sango, the national language of the Central African Republic. Someone who has ndara, is someone who is skilled. The company embodies this word and its meaning in all aspects of its vision and implementation. The media will always tell stories of violence and atrocities from CAR; this attention may someday help stop the violence. Ndara, however, will not wait for that day. Ndara will tell the Central African story of hope, joy and perseverance in the middle of the ongoing challenges. Ndara will build a peaceful and durable solution for Central Africans, founded on their greatest strength: resilience. Words and small deeds have the power to change, but only if they too are heard. Ndara seeks to speak these words and do these deeds, pushing the balance as much towards hope as possible.

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