The ABARI COLLECTIVE, a RICHARD’S RWANDA initiative started in 2018, is an entrepreneurship jewelry project that enables dignified employment for young Rwandan women in the Bugesera District.
We seek to meet the needs of low-income women graduating from secondary school in Nyamata, Rwanda, with little ability to pursue higher education and few skills to enter a competitive job market.
By training women in metal jewelry production, The Abari Collective ensures a unique product with viable markets and creates a strong community of Rwandan female metal-smiths—the first in the country.
The Abari Collective empowers women through four priority programs: Vocational training (Jewelry Making), ICT, Entrepreneurship, and Communications skills (English especially). A combination of facilitated learning sessions allows the women to learn business and English language skills to become creative entrepreneurs of their own jewelry line and leaders in their community.
The Abari Collective began in 2006 as a school sponsorship program called Richard's Rwanda-IMPUHWE. The organization was founded by Jessica Markowitz when she was eleven years old to support educational opportunities for girls in Rwanda in the rural village of Nyamata. Jessica’s original inspiration stemmed from a Rwandan man named Richard Kananga, a representative from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda. Richard stayed with Jessica’s family in the United States, and he recounted many sad tales about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. With his inspiration, Richard’s Rwanda-IMPUHWE was created as a way to empower young girls of Nyamata and create hope for a better future.
The US-based non-profit is sponsoring 50 low-income girls in the rural area of Nyamata, Rwanda, to help them access an education and finish their schooling. Richard’s Rwanda-IMPUHWE has established student chapters in several middle and high schools across the United States that work together to raise funds to support Rwandan girls’ education. Since 2006, Richard’s Rwanda has provided primary and secondary school scholarships to over 85 girls.
In 2017, the organization decided to create a new initiative called The Abari Collective to offer employment and skill-building opportunities for these young women upon finishing their secondary school education. By offering vocational training and supplementary educational programs, The Abari Collective continues the vision of Richard's Rwanda-IMPUHWE, with empowering young Rwandan women at the core of its mission.
"Since I was eleven years old I have organized bake sales, car washes and all different kinds of fundraisers to raise money for my sisters in Rwanda. With my own eyes I have watched the life of a young Rwandan girl transform through the gift of an education and my life will never be the same. ”
--Jessica Markowitz, Founder
August 23rd, 2011 – Heartofgoldgirls.com
June 9th, 2011 — MTV Act
February 13th, 2011 – World Vision Report
November 10th, 2010 – King 5 Evening Magazine
September 17, 2010 – Good News Now article about Jessica speaking at TEDx in Redmond, WA
September 13, 2010 – KUOW Public Radio interviewing Jessica Markowitz
June 23, 2010 – Jessica being honored at the White House as a member of 2010 Parade All-America High School Service Team
June 6, 2010 – Jessica on the front of PARADE Magazine with Matthew McConaughey – Seattle PI online
February 11, 2010 – See Jessica on CNN
December 24, 2009 – Education for all Op-Ed – Seattle PI
November 10, 2009 – “Jessica Markowitz, 14, Helps Heal the World” – I Heart Daily
Fall, 2009 – “Seattle to Rwanda: Every Child in School” – Results Advocate (page 5)
October 22, 2009 – “Seattle Teen Gives Rwandan Girls The Gift of Education” – Huffington Post
October 22, 2009 – “Garfield freshman’s charity begins at school”– Seattle Times
April 22, 2009 – “It’s time for a new chapter in the global illiteracy story – Queen” – Jordan Times
June 17, 2008 – “Kyle Taylor’s Road Trip America” – Positive Youth News
September 20, 2007 – “Seattle seventh-grader offers help to Rwandans” – Seattle PI