For the last 4 years, a group of Hilton Head Islanders – doctors, nurses, technicians, clergymen and anyone that has an interest in the human spirit – have traveled each August to the impoverished Rufiji River Delta region in Tanzania; the Archbishop of Tanzania is their host. The group provides needed supplies and medical treatment that is not readily accessible, including minor surgery, vaccinations, Malaria treatment, eye exams and free glasses. During the trip, group members live among the villagers in the main village of the Rufiji Delta. The group travels along the river by boat, visiting each village in the region. They have established relationships throughout the Delta, and their dedication has saved lives and improved living conditions. During the 2008 trip, the group saw and treated more than 700 individuals within a 4-day period.
While hosting the Archbishop of Tanzania at her home on Hilton Head Island, Joni was inspired by the stories of his diocese. As they discussed environmental conditions within his country, he asked Joni about her business. During the conversation he told Joni that he had known upon meeting her that she had a calling to help people. The evening with the Archbishop led Joni to consider how she could directly impact the women of the region through interior design. After evaluation, she realized that there was an overwhelming demand within the American market for intricately beaded accessories, both for home and for fashion. This realization resulted in her decision to travel with her husband to Africa in hopes of empowering the women of the region with their own business.
- Joni is currently designing custom beading patterns for application to items such as decorative pillows, jewelry, lampshades, scarves, etc., to be produced by the Tanzanian women.
- Joni has been conceptualizing designs for carved home accessories and sculpture pieces.
- Joni is working on an introductory business plan to present to Tanzania financial institutions in order to secure funding for a new local business.
While In Africa (August 3–14, 2009)
- Main Business Objective: to set up the infrastructure for a new business entity, which will manufacture Joni’s designs; the main revenue will result from importing its goods into the US retail market.
- Joni will collaborate with the village women to create a finalized business plan.
- Joni and other South Carolina financial consultants will present the plan to the financial institutions of Tanzania for loan approval.
- She will consult with the local women on what it takes to start a business and will provide information on business practices.
- She will present her designs to the village women for their interpretation. • She will consult and advise the African artisans during the creation of actual samples of the final designs.
Upon Her Return
- Joni will assist in the establishment of distribution methods for the African goods to be presented to the US market: market exhibitions, trunk shows, etc.
- Joni will use the goods herself in her interior design projects.
- Joni will distribute the products through the J Banks retail showroom on Hilton Head Island.
- Joni will consistently provide new design concepts for the business, and continue to use their goods in future projects.