Expedition Subsahara was founded to connect cultures through vibrant, handcrafted goods that were masterfully created using techniques passed down through generations. We know that when a continent or country’s people don’t share their own narrative, people tend to internalize a story that is inaccurate for many of its people.
Through radical respect, we want to show the world that Africa is a vibrant, thriving, beautiful continent full of diverse culture and hundreds of years of remarkable craftsmanship. We want to share our talents with people and use that as an opportunity to build bridges between cultures and create a more knowledgeable and accepting world.
Since our founding in 2018, and with the support of fiercely loyal and new customers alike, we’ve been able to build a solid foundation for Expedition Subsahara with the business. We’ve added more than 120 weavers to our staff, all women who can provide steady support for their families using their expert weaving skills.
The second part of our mission is to build a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) school for girls in Senegal, West Africa. We know that when girls are educated, they can (and do!) change the world.
If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.
It’s simple — we want to empower Senegalese girls through education to serve their country as doctors, scientists, engineers, leaders, whatever their hearts desire. This, in turn, will lead to economic improvements, creating a ripple effect in healthcare, infrastructure, technological innovation and the livelihood of all people.
When we embarked on this journey, we envisioned a five-year plan. The truth is, we were naive in our understanding of what it would take to build a sustainable business. A few years in, we’re still a ways from our goal, but making progress day in and day out. The school is our long term and ultimate goal, and we now realized that we have to fist build a sustainable business in order to build a sustainable school.
Little by little, the bird makes its nest.
Through circumstances beyond their control, girls and young women in Senegal (and in many countries) don’t have as many opportunities to earn an education. In fact, only 39% of Senegalese women aged 15 years and older are literate, compared to 62% of men.
Economics are a top reason Senegalese girls don’t attend or finish school. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in addition to economic reasons, unequal access to quality education, distance to school, unsafe roads and poor infrastructure of school buildings, as well as the low quality of education constitute some of many impediments to girls’ enrollment, retention and completion of education. Many families still only send boys to school, keeping girls at home to help with housework or look after siblings. Additionally, girls often marry and bear children at a young age, which prevents their completion of school.
Senegal’s Human Development Indicator (HDI) of 0.514 ranks the country 166 out of 189 countries and territories. The HDI is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. Knowledge level is measured by mean years of schooling among the adult population, which is the average number of years of schooling received in a life-time by people aged 25 years and older; and access to learning and knowledge by expected years of schooling for children of school-entry age, which is the total number of years of schooling a child of school-entry age can expect to receive if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrolment rates stay the same.
A strong gender imbalance exists internationally, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, in regards to women’s presence in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Given the rapid expansion of IT in Africa, UNESCO says that by targeting young women and providing them with the necessary 21st century skills, they will become powerful agents of change to achieve gender equality, one of the organization’s strategic priorities.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, “Honing 21st century skills - problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, time management and financial literacy - is critically important. Women and girls tend to leverage high value social capital compared to men and boys. In developing countries in particular, women have authentic relationships with their community members, and this allows them to be in tune with the most pressing problems of their community. A higher value social capital, combined with a social justice mindset, a STEM education, and social entrepreneurship, can lead to an increase of societal welfare.
By increasing the number of female problem solvers and change makers, we can alter the allocation of scarce resources to solve community problems. In a world infused with technology at every level, the right allocation of resources to solve the right problems becomes paramount. It is time to unlock women’s and girl’s potential in STEM!”
If you think education is expensive try ignorance.
UNESCO (and Expedition Subsahara) strongly believes in empowering young people, particularly young women, through Computer science programming, such as those in the STEM fields. We don’t want finances, access, or quality of education to prevent girls from furthering their education in STEAM fields. We believe women should have the education and tools needed to choose her own destiny.
Twenty percent of our annual profits or a minimum of $50,000 (whichever is greater) are set aside in an education fund for the school. Below are some estimated costs based on World Bank and UNICEF estimates for building a school in Sub Saharan Africa.
- Cost of Land: Approximately $55,000
- 4 Classrooms, $7,200 per classroom = $28,800
- 2 Restrooms, $5,000 each = $10,000
- 2 Computer/Robotic Labs $25,000 each = $50,000
- 1 Teacher/Staff Room $7,200
- 1 Library $10,000
- 1 Cafeteria/Kitchen, Approximately $50,000
Total to raise: $211,000 (plus ongoing funds to keep the school operating).
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
We have a small team who work tirelessly to bring Expedition Subsahara customers quality, authentic African goods. Together, we can change the narrative on how African goods are bought and sold, and at the same time create sustainable and meaningful work within the continent. It’s the long game but little by little the bird builds her nest.
Thank you for your support!