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Kamili is Swahili for “full.”  A word that captures the mission behind everything we do. When refugees are forced to flee their war-torn communities, they are stripped of their humanity. Living in refugee camps for years, even decades. But as they resettle in their new home here in the Richmond, Virginia they start to regain their dignity - and then some. They become full of hope and purpose.  That is what Kamili is intended to nurture and grow. By providing dignified jobs collaborating with fellow refugees, we want them to always feel full. Full of hope, full of community, full of purpose, full of love.



For the past year, I've been fortunate to work with a community of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  These resilient people have opened my eyes to the hardships millions of war survivors face every day in their new homes. While they are now safe from harm, their struggles are far from over. Language, education and transportation barriers prevent them from finding dignified employment. So we set off on a mission to find a way for them to make money while eliminating these barriers.


It dawned on me after seeing my Congolese friends making Valentine's Day cards that crafting handmade products in the comfort of their own apartment would be the perfect way for them to make additional money.  Jewelry captured their vibrant, optimistic spirit.  They wouldn’t need to speak English, have a formal education or drive to work. They could earn money while caring for their kids and gain a sense of pride knowing they are contributing financially to their family.  This provides them with the opportunity to generate an income that far exceeds the current wages available to them.  What makes Kamili unique is that our makers earn above living wages and share ALL profits.  This arrangement gives them the opportunity to lift themselves from underneath the low income levels they currently endure.  


The second generation of refugees is being raised here in Richmond, Virginia. Awesome, loving kids - from toddlers to teens, who all look to their parents to show them the way. Kamili has become a genuine source of hope and fulfillment for these families. While the community gains financial security, Kamili also exposes the newly resettled refugees to entrepreneurship and the possibility to pave their own path and control their future.