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Gravesend charity helping to empower women in Africa

PUBLISHED: 11:53 10 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:29 13 June 2016

Proceeds from the Akomi products go back to the African women who made them

Proceeds from the Akomi products go back to the African women who made them

Archant

The Ripples Foundation has launched a new product range made by women in African villages

A Gravesend-based charity has launched a new product range that will help women in Africa to improve their lives.

The Ripples Foundation was set up in 2005 to support women fleeing domestic violence and minority women struggling to find work, and it has now expanded to help empower African women more generally.

Akomi products, which are made by women in Ghana and Nigeria, include three different fragrances of shea butter, and all the proceeds will be returned to the women to reinvest in their business or to feed, clothe and educate their children.

Anne Toba, the Ripple’s Foundation’s chief executive, was inspired to set up the charity after losing her husband in 1999.

Both she and her husband came from a Nigerian background.

She told the Reporter: “We were doing very well and my sons were in Washington University but my husband’s family would not allow his will to be read and they took everything we owned.

“The culture is that you marry the family, not just the husband, and I had to look after the children on my own.

“I thought, if I can go through this, what about women who do not have my education and chances?

“Our model relies on women who want to work their own way out of poverty, so we give them loans and get them to save, and then we get the loans back and the next woman in line will get the next loan.”

The charity was initially set up to help black and minority ethnic women, but it has expanded in scope to help Eastern European women in the UK.

“We work with the youth around culture and integration and to get the youth to understand other cultures better,” Mrs Toba explained.

As well as providing training for African women to make their products, the charity has supplied classrooms and medical equipment to support communities.

“All our projects are sustainable and scaleable, and we are looking for partner organisations to provide funding,” she added.

The Ripples Foundation is hoping to expand its product range to include moringa oil and seeds, dry catfish and palm oil in the future.

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