Q. There are many wonderful charity projects around the world. What is distinctive about Gogo-Olive?
One of the distinctive aspects of Gogo Olive is how the income generating aspect of the project has been used to rehabilitate female prisoners, both while they are in prison and after their release. We have also tried to develop a unique product that aims to link the consumer to the producer and to use it to create awareness of the issues faced by women, and their familes, here in Zimbabwe. We also aim to be a holistic project, to work towards addressing all the needs faced by the women here - ranging from employment, to discipleship, to healthcare and money management.
Q. In what part of the world does Gogo-Olive work?
We are based in Zimbabwe, currently in four different projects from three different areas of the country and we now export internationally!
Q. How did Gogo-Olive come into being?
Gogo Olive was started in November 2008 as a response to the huge unemployment problem in Zimbabwe, when conditions in the country were already particularly difficult. Knitting was chosen as it only requires basic materials and can be done anywhere and at anytime, which suits the lifestyle of the ladies here!
We began as a small group of 6 women and following the success of this group we have expanded to involve more ladies and work alongside different groups to try and support as many women as possible, we aim to identify those who are most in need. There are now around 50 women involved in the project. Our vision is to empower Zimbabwean women to journey into the fullness of life that God created them for.
Q. Give some examples of feedback and response to your project so far?
We have been really encouraged by the response towards our products, so far we are exporting to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, USA and Holland as well as selling locally in Zimbabwe. We find that people respond well to the personal link to the women who knitted the animal - each animal comes with a tag that has a photo and the name of the lady who knitted it and she has also named the animal. What we have found exciting is the testimonies from the ladies involved in the project, quotes from the women include "Being involved in Gogo Olive has changed my life. I am now able to buy food and pay my children's school fees." And "When I was in prison I felt quarantined so I was so thankful that I was able to learn a skill. I was so happy that I could continue to work with Gogo Olive when I was released, now I don't spend my time loitering around the village. I know that God loves me."
Q. Are there current plans for expansion?
Yes! We looking at the moment at how we can develop the project to make it more holistic, we want to be able to offer workshops in healthcare, education, money management, parenting and to take a more active role in the discipleship of the women. We are also designing new products to expand our range and are looking at how we can develop our website to better communicate what we are doing and aiming to do and to encourage interaction.
Q. What is the biggest challenge for Gogo-Olive?
At the moment we are finding our biggest challenges are organising the transport of the basic materials we need into Zimbabwe and the shipping of our products for export. This combined with the everyday challenges of running a business in Zimbabwe!
Q. How can folk get involved right now?
We would love any available assistance to help us to develop the project to more fully meet the needs of the women, whether this is in sharing skills or knowledge in the areas of business management, exporting or graphic design or photography skills as we are expanding our website, or whether it is financially as we are looking for funding for premises to base ourselves from, the development of workshops, an internet connection and to continue supporting the women in prison. Another aim we have is that all the ladies we work with will be able to put all their children through education.
See their website for more information. www.gogo-olive.com/