This week, we’re talking to Abir of Inua Naturals who is on a mission to improve her community, country, and the world! She is an integral part of combatting the gender poverty gap in East Africa by providing opportunities for underserved women to jump-start farms, build businesses, sustainably increase income, and provide community-driven solutions to improve access to both health and education. Learn more about Abir's powerful story, mission and brand, below!
BLK + GRN: Introduce yourself & why you do what you do. ABIR: My name is Abir Ibrahim, I am a Sudanese-American by the way of Washington, DC. I was born into a country that was wrapped in a civil war until it broke itself in half. Sudan was hit with a devastating famine that left more than half of its population without access to clean water, food, and adequate health. I experienced many women and children living in severe poverty. My parents were always grabbing for any survival opportunities and thankful to people, sometimes unknown, who offered a hand to grow. It’s these opportunities that led us to relocate to a better life in the United States. My mission to improving my community, country, and the world lead me to earn a master in public health focusing on women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa. My commitment to alleviate poverty and health disparities among women and children continued through my work at the UNICEF Sudan, UNICEF USA, Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., and Peace Corps in rural Tanzania. I recognize that we as individuals are a compilation of everyone we have met and everyone who contributed to our growth. It is because of neighbors, community, and various individuals—I was afforded a better life, access to better education and endless opportunities. It's paying it forward as others have done for me. We cannot change the world but we can cast stones across water to create ripples that inspire massive change. BLK + GRN: Describe the inception of your brand. When did your vision start to manifest? ABIR: In response to the death of my neighbor due to AIDS, I established Inua Naturals to combat the gender poverty gap in her village and improve women’s access to better healthcare services. Inua in Swahili means to 'uplift', a commitment to celebrate and empower underserved women in rural East Africa through agribusiness and innovation. Inua works with over 154 marginalized women farmers and artisans every day to jump-start their farms, build their businesses, sustainably increase income and at the same time provide community-driven solutions to improve access to health and education. With Inua, I wanted to create new industry and economies for women who do not otherwise have access to the global consumer so underserved East African women can rise above poverty, raise healthier families, stimulate their local economies and inspire the world around them.
BLK + GRN: How is your brand green? Why was this important to you? ABIR: As an agribusiness, we focus on locally, ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients in East Africa from women-owned farms. This is the core of our mission to make all of our products sustainable to empower women and their communities. I deeply believe in order to reduce health disparities and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world and our Africa—we must invest in women economic development. Women offer the most effective solutions to reduce poverty, but millions of women are subject to gender discrimination resulting in greater marginalization in local markets and unable to earn enough to sustain their businesses, their families and the solution is growing in our own backyard. BLK + GRN: Why do you think it is important to buy Black? ABIR: Simply put, to build our community and invest in the survival, health, education, and success of the next generation.
Learn more about the Black-women creators and makers that make up the BLK + GRN Artisan family at www.blkgrn.com/collections.