Fair Trade Products Created by Harkis Designs Artisans

Harriet Zaffoni – Harkiss Designs

Harkiss Designs is based on the idea of compassionate capitalism. Every product is made by East African artisans, most of whom are women responsible for supporting their entire family in the comfortable and safe setting of a co-op in their community. Harkiss carefully selects these talented artisans and the sustainable materials they use, including fabric woven from the pulp of the kukui nut and beads and soap stone sourced locally. Harkiss Designs is also Fair Trade Federation certified, so you can trust that each and every product is ethically sourced and produced. Every item from the Harkiss Designs collection is an embodiment of skill, dexterity and dreams. Each handcrafted treasure brings East African women artisans one step closer to achieving their independence. For Harriet Zaffoni, founder and chief executive officer of Harkiss Designs, there is no greater joy than empowering these women to sustain and support themselves and their families.

As a New Yorker of Ugandan descent, Harriet is deeply invested in East African philanthropy. She collaborates with overseas organizations to tackle a range of challenging issues, including poverty, gender inequality and lack of resources. Her intent is to mitigate the inherent hardships of being a woman in East Africa with an empowering sense of purpose. “There’s no question that women in the developing countries lag behind their peers in the developed regions of the world,” Harriet says. In North America where she has made her home, powerful organizations advocate for women’s rights. “I want to foster that kind of network in the East African nations, to rouse up the entrepreneurial bug in women,” she explains.

Harriet operates the business as a social enterprise. She makes the long journey from her New York home to her native Uganda at least 3 times per year. She establishes and carefully nurtures community homes and small workshops where East African artisans translate her insightful designs into beautiful jewelry, accessories, home decor and footwear with international appeal. She markets these products globally, largely through trade channels she helped to establish. She then invests a significant portion of the proceeds into supportive programs that benefit the artisans, their families and their communities so that everyone involved can prosper.

Harriet also established and actively oversees Lend A Hand Uganda-USA (LAHU-USA), a sister organization to LAHU in Uganda. The mission of these charitable partners is to help homeless, orphaned and/or at-risk children in Uganda find homes, go to school, get basic healthcare, and learn the skills they need to support themselves in the future. Rather than just providing financial support, LAHU develops projects that teach children to become self-sustaining. To learn more, visit http://www.lahu-usa.org/.

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