Born and raised in Africa, our CEO - Mustafa - spent 30 years in East Africa - Kenya and Tanzania - in the midst of the beautiful African Great Lakes area. East Africa is both stunning and scenic, the site of Mount Kilamanjaro and Mount Kenya, as well as Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika.
"I was lucky - frankly, I was privileged"
A rich artistic and culture heritage exists in Africa, represented by artisanal groups such as the Makonde, Swahili, Konso, Kamba and Giryama. Visual and decorative artwork includes wood carving, silversmithing, clay and soapstone sculpture, mural and mat plaiting. Music is closely woven into East African society, valued as an activity that fosters and reinforces community.
Mustafa also spent a period studying in Mombasa and Nairobi, followed by high school years at his alma mater - The Chania High School - in Thika (Kenya), where the Thika and Chania Rivers meet.
"I was lucky - quite frankly, I was privileged. The Chania High Boarding Shool community exposed me to both local culture and the diverse cultures of the student population. School trips into rural areas to participate in local cultural events stirred my curiosity".
Possessed of an exploratory nature, Mustafa traveled extensively within Africa, discovering some of the diverse cultures and traditions. He came to know that regions of the continent differ vastly, both geographically and culturally. Each region has its own unique identity and heritage.
"I realized what remarkable artwork, craftsmanship and skills came out of Africa's diverse cultures".
Mustafa moved to Canada, where he lives with his family. He continued to visit Africa frequently, keeping in touch with family and friends - bringing African artwork and handicrafts back to Canada to surround his family with the "memories of home".
And then it dawned on him . . .
Eventually, it occurred to Mustafa that sourcing authentic African products and art would not only make good business sense, it would also be a way of giving back. A way to support and strengthen artistic communities and entrepreneurial spirit. A way to encourage self-reliance.