Some of the hardest information to find about African countries is employment data. When it is available, too often it is dated or unreliable. For example, the International Institute for Labour Studies pegs Sub-Saharan Africa with an average unemployment rate of 35% in 2012. Our informal research shows a much larger number, with percentages as high as 90%.
Finding a steady source of income is difficult for many people. Despite economic and industrial growth in many African countries, countless people are left behind; hundreds of thousands barely survive each day. Strong sustainable employment opportunities that support stable growth is the missing ingredient.
All Across Africa started our work focused on income generation by creating local projects in villages across East Africa. Specifically, we began by producing farm products for local markets. Our experience on the ground taught us that it wasn’t the product or producing the product that prevented economic growth. Rather, the lack of market within a country was a factor. So we turned to the U.S. market, where beautiful, handcrafted African products have not always been available. Very quickly we found a hungry clientele for the products we made affordable and accessible. Year after year we have pursued different market opportunities and products and have seen—thankfully!—strong and steady growth.