Clever Belle teams up with Project Zawadi!

Tees That Make a Difference

Clever Belle is thrilled to be partnering with PROJECTZAWADI to help Tanzanian children achieve their educational goals and live fulfilling and productive lives.  Clever Belle will donate $2 to PROJECTZAWADI for each Jane Goodall and Malala Yousafzai t-shirt sold between November 1st-November 20th.*

*All donations received from Nov 1-20 also receive a 25% match from Access 2 Tanzania.

To learn more about Project Zawadi’s history and mission, please visit www.projectzawadi.org.  

       

Meet Karen Stupic of Project Zawadi

Clever Belle is excited to introduce you to Karen Stupic, co-founder of Project Zawadi and Access 2 Tanzania. Project Zawadi began after Karen’s husband, Brian Singer volunteered in the Peace Corps in Tanzania from 1993 to 1995. Brian decided to help a family of four orphaned children with school supplies, clothing and food. Without this help, it is very unlikely that they would have attended school. After Brian returned to the USA, he continued sending some limited support, but it was not enough to keep them all in school. When he was able to visit again in July 2000 he decided to place two of the boys in a top-quality boarding school and started Project Zawadi in order to raise money for their education. From simply sponsoring these four students at a primary school in the Mara Region, Project Zawadi was born and now has students studying in primary schools, secondary schools, vocational training centers, teacher training colleges and Universities all over Tanzania. Project Zawadi is a 100% direct aid organization. Read on to learn how their non-profit work led them to form a safari company that helps support the local community in Tanzania.    

Interview with Karen Stupic:

Please tell us how you decided to start a travel companies to Tanzania and Rwanda. Was your goal always to help fund Project Zawadi and what is the social mission of your travel companies. Why is the social mission important to you?

Project Zawadi pre-dates our first travel business, Access 2 Tanzania, by four years. It was never our plan to start a safari company. Brian’s friends who had been helping with the nonprofit approached him to start a safari company because they needed jobs. Brian was concerned that starting a safari business in Tanzania could be seen as opportunistic. To be frank, I was a skeptic at first. Just ask Brian.

After a lot of contemplation it struck us that we could build a business on principles that aligned with our worldview and could support our nonprofit work in Tanzania too. We consider ourselves “social entrepreneurs.” Brian’s background is in micro-finance and business training and my professional background is in nonprofit arts administration and I consider myself a “Jill-of-all-Trades.”

Before Access 2 Tanzania could actually give financially to Project Zawadi, the business was able to underwrite overhead so donations could go directly to the work on the ground. Eventually this in-kind support was met with financial support directly from Access 2 Tanzania as well as from our guests who have been incredibly generous. We have calculated that since Access 2 Tanzania began, our company and our guests have donated nearly $800,000 to Project Zawadi in cash and in-kind services!

When did you first travel to Africa and how does your love of Tanzania motivate you in your career?

My first trip to Tanzania was January 2002. Brian and I were engaged to be married and this trip was like Brian bringing me home to meet the family, his Tanzanian family. Brian will admit that he was nervous about me visiting the village. What would I think? Would I embrace it all? I met the boys he had supported while he was in the Peace Corps and who were also Project Zawadi’s first sponsored students. I met the elders of the village where he lived, in particular Mzee Gibai. I saw the school where he taught and the home where he lived for two years. I was “warned” that if he was everyone’s brother, then I was instantly everyone’s sister. It was true. I was warmly welcome and felt very much at home.

What motivates us are all of the relationships we have formed beginning with Brian’s Peace Corps service all the way through today. I have such a sincere appreciation for the incredible passion and dedication of our safari guides. They are incredible ambassadors for their country. The real, personal connections that they so freely offer open up our guests to the richness of the Tanzanian culture and people. I think there is no better impact we can make in the world but to see how connected we all are.

What is the greatest challenge owning your business or can you tell us about a challenge you have had to overcome and what you learned from that experience?

Running businesses that are half way across the world does have its challenges. If you wanted to, you could work 24 hours a day given the time zone differences with our offices in Tanzania and Rwanda. Plus we are on call 24/7 for our travelers.  I think any small business owner will attest that it is easy to work all the time. The challenge is finding balance.

Who inspires you the most and why?

Truth be known, I had to answer this question last so that I could ponder this for a while.  There is not one single person who inspires me, but rather a group of people. I am inspired by the dedication of my children’s teachers. I am inspired by the lifelong giving of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers like my colleagues in Access 2 Tanzania and Project Zawadi (we have 3 RPCV’s on staff). I am inspired by people who follow their passion and thereby enrich the world. I have a streak of idealism in me. It is enriching to bear witness to other people’s passion.

What advice would you give to Clever Belles who are interested in traveling and exploring the world?
Always have extra passport photos!  But seriously, whether you explore independently, with one friend or with a group of friends, go for it! The world is full of beautiful places and, more importantly, wonderful people. We are all more alike than we are different.

 

What advice would you give to Clever Belles who are interested in non-profit work or volunteering?

If you have a passion to give back through your work, there are so many varied opportunities to get involved. My career path has not been a straight line. Seeking out an internship or un-paid internship at an organization that resonates with you is a great way to get your foot in the door. When I was in college I was studying Art and Art History and wanted to work at a gallery. I literally cold-called dozens of art galleries and ultimately secured an un-paid internship. Eventually, the Executive Director paid me a small stipend my first summer and hired me back the next summer because she valued what I had to offer. The experience she offered me was invaluable whether I had been paid or not. Follow your passion and things will fall into place.

To learn more and to donate: http://projectzawadi.org/




Cindy Tank-Murphy
Cindy Tank-Murphy

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