WHEN GIRLS ARE EDUCATED...
...they are less likely to marry early, have unplanned pregnancies, and contract HIV.
...they are more likely to earn a higher income compared to individuals who did not go to school.
...they are more likely to be financially secure and economically empowered.
...they are more likely to change the world around them for the better.
Today’s blog post is something a little unusual. I got together with one of my dearest friends and biggest inspirations to share a founder’s journey with you.
Elisabetta Colabianchi is the founder and executive director of Kurandza, a non-profit organization that empowers women and girls in Mozambique through education and entrepreneurship. Percina Miocha is the Co-Founder and Country Director of Kurandza. Together, they’ve changed the lives of women living with HIV and created opportunities for girls to stay in school, and partnered with female leaders across the globe.
That sounds really fancy, right?
Well, it is. But it wasn’t always fancy. Kurandza wasn’t always a successful, impactful, multi-continent enterprise that was changing the world for good. Once a upon a time, it was just an idea between two best friends.
Tell us a little bit about Kurandza and what inspired you to found it.
Elisabetta: Kurandza was created after I served with the Peace Corps in Mozambique for 3 years. While I was there, I formed a strong friendship with Percina, Kurandza’s Co-Founder and Country Director. We created a sewing cooperative together during my third year in the Peace Corps, and when my assignment was over, I decided to start Kurandza as a way to continue working with Percina and the rest of our community.
Let’s talk about the entrepreneurial journey, with all its ups and downs. How has the mission and vision for Kurandza changed over the years?
Elisabetta: Oh yes— the journey definitely has had many ups and downs, but like all worthwhile projects, they don’t grow overnight but take dedication and hard work to make them a reality. Our mission has always been to empower our community in Mozambique through education and entrepreneurship, and it’s evolved through several iterations to where it is today. We started as a for-profit social enterprise and earned seed funds through the sale of the products that the women at our sewing cooperative made. Then as we grew, we became a non-profit and were able to increase our social programs and shift our main focus to education for girls. We now have over 200 children in school and continue empowering women to become leaders in the community!
What’s it like working with your best friend? What advice would you give other entrepreneurs who work with their spouses, family members, or friends?
Percina: Yeah, working with my favorite and best friend isn’t always easy. We people only have one body, one head, and one heart, so when work debates and issues arise, it can be easy to let it affect the other parts. My advice would be to not let work affect the most important part of your friendship— friendship is always first, and work is always the second thing in life.
Let’s talk money. What funding strategies have worked well for Kurandza? What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs with tons of passion and few resources?
Elisabetta: For us, we’ve had a lot of success with crowdfunding and large campaigns that involve the community like #IStandForGirls. I would say that it’s super important to see what you’re good at and what you like to do, and then do that! Do you like to have one-on-one meetings with people? Do you like to throw events? Do you like to sell products? Do you like to engage with community on social media? Once you figure out what you love to do and what you’re good at, then you can find a funding strategy that works for you and your unique business!
How do you find a balance between running such an important organization, building your dreams, and taking care of yourself?
Percina: Because work is always the second most important thing in life after family and friends, it’s important to keep dreaming for the future. Kurandza has been such a blessing and a help for me and my family, but I still desire to better myself and my family even more— there is still more to focus on because my dreams are many!
Elisabetta and Percina’s dreams probably aren’t that different from yours. All they needed to make their impact was a little hard work, great mentors pointing them in the right direction, and a whole lot of passion.
What could you do if you gave your passion the space?
At Amy Everhart Coaching, we give back. A portion of our profits goes directly to this impactful organization, and you can get involved, too!