We had the good fortune of connecting with Doris Mukangu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Doris, how does your business help the community?
Our business has a unique model. It is a hybrid of a non-profit – Amani Women Center (AWC) and our social-enterprise – Johari Africa, both aim in empowering refugee women in Clarkston, Georgia and parts of Africa. We are heavily vested in the communities we serve and work in. Through the Amani Sewing Academy (ASA) we provide sewing skills for refugee women in Clarkston, GA to empower them to enter the workforce with a skill that allows them to earn livable wages. Upon graduation the women have 3 choices, to gain meaningful employment in the garment industry or related fields, start a home-based business or work contractually under our social enterprise. Another, unique feature of our business is the global impact beyond Clarkston, GA. We hire and also train women artisans in Africa who make raw materials that we use to make our products and accessories like beads and hand-woven fabrics.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career in Public Health is a result of unique circumstances. My passion of working with refugees and especially women is influenced by my upbringing in Africa and seeing the need for opportunities for women and how invisible we tend to be in the larger scope of things especially in decision making positions. When it is very obvious looking around at the outdoor markets and farms that our economies are driven by women. I am mostly excited about founding and running an organization that provides a pathway to success to women who need it most. Women who have numerous challenges and are forgotten – the marginalized of the marginalized. I am excited that we help change the trajectory of their lives, their families, and their communities. We get to help tell a different story of triumph and resilience. In this covid-19 climate, I am extremely proud of the refugee women who have taken up the task to make facial masks to outfit essential workers and the community that welcomed them to start a new life. Masks can be purchased on our website www.amaniwomencenter.org It has not been easy getting where I am today. I am an immigrant woman and a woman of color. The odds have been against me way before I realized that they existed. Navigating a foreign terrain is not easy and having to juggle going to graduate school and running an organization full time can be brutal. Overcoming challenges takes a paradigm shift. Especially changing my language from “I feel overwhelmed” to “I welcome this challenge”. There are so many lessons learned on this journey and I am still learning. I have learnt that an idea or a vision is just that when it is on paper. It can only begin to grow wings when it finally leaves your head and is executed. There is nothing that keeps business going like passion. And lastly, there is nothing more fulfilling in life than investing in the lives of others. I want the world to know that one can make a difference in their little corner of their world. I started this organization after seeing a need in my community and decided I want to do something about it. My story speaks to the desire of wanting to make a difference and and leaving the world a better place. My brand is an embodiment of my life’s experiences – opportunity, originality, and openness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Clarkston, GA the most diverse square mile in the USA has some neat African cultural places. On top of the list, and not to brag would be the Amani Women Center that provides an exotic African experience adorned in the finest African art and a boutique space that showcases beautiful handicrafts made locally by refugee women and women artisans in Africa. Another one of my favs is Lambadina owned by Elsa a former refugee woman where one can enjoy authentic freshly brewed coffee “boon or jabena”. Another popular local spot is Merhaba Shawarma owned by another refugee woman Manna. There is no better shawarma in the whole of Atlanta. If you would like to observe how freshly made injera is made, there is African Cultural and Injera Groceries. You will not regret trying this delicious traditional bread. Clarkston is also home to the Burundi Drummers who were featured in the Black Panther movie. You may catch them performing sometimes at the Clarkston Community Center or the Amani Women Center. The city of Clarkston has done amazing work with the walk- ways and parks. Friendship Park is a nice little hideaway to enjoy nature and some wild life. In addition, Clarkston has additional walking and biking trails that lend to an enjoyable outdoor workout experience. There is plenty to do in this square mile.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people, organizations that I would like to give a shout out to. A lot of credit goes to my upbringing in Kenya, growing up in an entrepreneurial home. My parents were seasoned business folks with strong work ethics. Obviously, the folks that I work with who tirelessly give of themselves are the spokes that turn the wheel of the organization. In addition, we have a team of dedicated volunteers who have poured their hearts into our mission and vision. I am an alumni of Start:Me – a business training program initiative of Goizueta (Emory School of Business) that has been very supportive. Also, there are relationships built along my academic journey at Emory Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) with organizations like Emory University Women Club (EUWC) that have been incredibly supportive through this journey. We would not be able to run our sewing academy without having been welcomed on the campus of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC) and without partners like Memorial Drive Ministries (MDM).
Some images -Reggie Erawoc
Nominate someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.