Zwazo Initiatives Spotlight
e: prefix: 1. once more; afresh; anew
nest: noun: 1. a structure or place made or chosen by a bird for laying eggs and sheltering its young.
Wait, did you just make up a word?
We did! We wanted to get to the core of who we are, seekers of renewal, restoration and rebuilding, and marry that with our bird inspired branding. Nests represent the idea of home and belonging. We want our programming to renew, restore, and rebuild places of belonging not just for our employees, but also for the people within their circle of influence. RENest captures all of this better than any word we could find in the dictionary.
Okay, so you made up a word. But what about your programs? What exactly is this?
The mission of Mama Zwazo is two-fold. We seek to run a successful business to offer stable employment to Haitian women. We also seek to support our employees in mind, body and spirit. This is where RENest comes into play.
Healthcare Program: Our employees have access to a reimbursement account that can be used for routine care, emergency care, prescriptions, vaccinations, lab work, and other medical needs as they arise. Employees may enroll spouses and children into this program. Every employee also receives a yearly well woman exam through our partners at Nich La. This covers routine yearly exams, full lab work, and follow up consultations as needed. Our goal is to encourage our employees to take ownership of their health.
Savings Program: Each month, employees can save a percentage of their paycheck with Mama Zwazo. Employees must choose a goal to save toward. Current participants are saving for everything from a laptop to expand their business skills to start up capital for a small business for a family member. Because banking in Haiti can be expensive and at times dangerous, we offer this in house alternative. Employees savings funds are matched at ten percent. Employees periodically meet with a manager to go over their goal and develop ways to work toward their goal aside from only saving money.
English Classes: We are thrilled to offer our employees the option to enroll in English in Mind’s exceptional English language program. This program is offered at our employees’ request. Mama Zwazo covers the cost of enrollment and tuition for the year. English speakers within Port-au-Prince experience more job security, a larger job market, and the ability to interact confidently with visitors.
Literacy Development: Lack of education is one of the chief crimes of poverty. Because schooling in Haiti is not government funded, students are often forced to drop out when funds are lacking. For employees who have not been able to finish schooling, we build a personalized literacy improvement program with a private tutor to enhance basic skills like reading and writing. We hope to instill confidence and worth into all of our employees and restore the things poverty steals.
Bible Study: Every Thursday afternoon, you’ll find our women gathered together in Bible Study. We want to grow in our love of Jesus together. Our curriculum is locally published and written in Kreyol, specifically for the Haitian context. We believe this intentional time of gathering together is vital to who we are as women and as makers.
Staff Fun Days: Throughout the year, we plan outings for our staff. These include visits to fellow artisan groups, the occasional beach day, sightseeing, and lunches together. Our goal is to expand our understanding of what Haiti can be and what our tiny third of the island is capable of.
Counseling: We believe in the power of owning our stories. To support this, we offer professional counseling to employees who wish to participate. Our hope is that we are able to process trauma, learn our true selves, and become empowered to live fully in our own skin.
Whoa. That’s awesome! So who funds all of this?
Mama Zwazo is a registered 501(c)3. This is a fancy way of saying we operate as a not-for-profit business. Our profits are split between business development and our RENest programs. Additionally, donations given to Mama Zwazo go directly to our RENest programming. So, how can I get involved?
Buy our beautifully made goods! Everyone knows someone with a cute babe. And, we think our earrings make a great addition to every woman’s wardrobe. For a full list of our retail partners, go here. You can also donate directly to our employee programming. Tell your friends about us! We are a new company and need to get the word out about all we are doing. Tell your friends and tell them to tell their friends! And if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, stop by for a tour and studio experience.
So after we shop and spread the word, how can we stay in the loop about Mama Zwazo and RENest?
Subscribe to this blog for periodic updates and follow us on social media. We frequently share behind the scenes looks at our studio, employee highlights, product spotlights, giveaways and rumor has it product sneak peeks are on the way later this summer!
Thanks for being a part of our story and the slow work of justice!
Love + Caribbean Light
The Mama Zwazo Team