It’s the final day of 2018, and what better time is there to reflect on the journey of Expedition Subsahara? If you’ve been along for the ride since the beginning, thank you! And if you’re just joining our tribe, again, thank you! This year has been incredible in terms of exponential growth and lessons learned. Your support, encouragement and love has been integral to the successes we’ve seen this year.
Because of your support we were able to:
Be published in in 8 local and national publications.
Participate in more than 40 live makers markets, where we connected with thousands of our Expedition Subsahara tribe members and supporters in real life.
Hire 3 full-time artisans, impacting their families on a deep and personal level.
Save more than $30,000 for the education fund.
Recently, I (Sofi- Expedition Subsahara’s founder) made a personal decision to close my photography business, Sofi Seck Photography, to focus entirely on Expedition Subsahara. This was an incredibly difficult decision, as I spent the past 10 years building my business, pouring every ounce of energy into it to make it a success. I realized that a person can’t build their dream by only putting in half of their energy toward their end goal. Nobody can build your dream for you. I am a now full-time member on the Expedition Subsahara team and I couldn’t be more excited about the future.
Building something from the ground up, a startup, is all about experimenting. We have been able to try something, fail spectacularly, get back up and try something new. That’s the beauty of a startup. I have learned so much in just 12 short months that it feels like a lifetime of lessons. It has been through this experimental phase that I came to understand that while the core mission of Expedition Subsahara has not changed, the road to get there has evolved. I — We — need to build an entire new system of education in Senegal. I know this seems challenging, if not impossible, but I’m convinced it is doable. Think of all the charter schools in the United States. Using those as a template I have done an incredible amount of research into charter schools, STEM education in the United States and what is working.
Through this, I’ve learned that the best thing we can do is not to integrate girls into a new secondary school system, but to begin with them through primary school. Our first group of girls will come to us as children and we will grow as they grow. When they complete high school, they will be prepared to apply to the most reputable colleges in the world. This is a lifelong commitment, and I believe wholeheartedly that this is the way to change the current educational system.
In other news, we have started the process of adding a nonprofit arm of Expedition Subsahara. This is a long and arduous process, but we hope to have nonprofit status in a few months. This distinction will aid us in applying for educational grants.
I am also working hard to design even more beautiful home goods and accessories so that each person who purchases a product can create a space in their life that’s unique. Cheers to 2019!