Salha Kaitesi is a British Rwandan gender equality and female empowerment champion, who believes that it is the basic call of every human on earth to wipe the tears of the disadvantaged populace, by being a solution to the basic problems around the world.
While working as a social worker for the North of England Refugee Service from 2006-2011, Kaitesi received an insight into the true situation of the disadvantaged and vulnerable people from different countries around the world. Several months later, the desire to play a role in impacting the lives of others eventually birthed Beauty of Rwanda, a not-for-profit Jewellery, and home décor organization that she founded in order to economically empower women and girls in Rwanda. Beauty of Rwanda’s “One Basket” campaign, which focuses on helping boost trade and end poverty for many basket weavers and local artisans (a predominant trade for disadvantaged women in Rwanda) in Rwanda through the purchase of at least one piece of the handmade crafts is a small initiative but goes further if done by many. Kaitesi had no experience in E-Commerce when she started the organization Beauty of Rwanda, but despite the hurdles she had to cross, the organization today continues to put women and girls at the center of its work. “If you feel like the chips are all in place, even though there will always be doubts, just go for it. Better to try and fail than to never try at all”, she is quoted to have said.
Guided by the philosophy that says “none of us can move forward if half of us are held back”, Kaitesi, continues to champion the empowerment of women and girls, not only in Rwanda but in the rest of Africa too. Her efforts in empowering women, girls and campaigning to end poverty have not gone unnoticed. In March 2011, she was voted as one of the 20 inspirational women of African Diaspora in Europe. In the same year, she was also the winner of the first ADA awards (African Diaspora at work Awards). In 2012, Kaitesi was featured in AfroElle Magazine’s “Top 35 under 35” game changers, top influencers and emerging leaders. 2013 brought with it two recognitions – 3 category nominations for the Women4Africa awards and being listed in ‘Top 100 women who inspire in the world’. Between 2014 to 2017, Kaitesi won the Women4Africa Recognition Award (2014), winner Community Giants Awards Inspirational Woman (2016), a finalist nominee again at the Women4Africa Role Model of the year (2017), winner of the Newcastle University Rise up Start up Single Founder Award (2017) and runner-up Outstanding Entrepreneur Pride of Newcastle University Awards (2017).
Salha Kaitesi who attributes her awards to passion, courage, hard work, determination and a love to empower women especially African women owns and runs a blog called Teakisi (pronounce Tee-ki-is) which creates a space for African women to empower and celebrate each other. The blogzine stands out for several reasons, one of them being the dedication it gives to the everyday African woman. According to the blog, most of its contributors are not professional bloggers and writers, but everyday women with a story to tell and wisdom to share. The contributors to the blog range from University students stay at home mums, professionals and everything in between. The variety of African women from different backgrounds and locations accounts for the distinctness found on the platform. Teakisi is a platform that also prides itself on the ability to not only gather African women in one place but most importantly to giving them a voice. The overall aim of Teakisi is to show the world that the African woman is multifaceted, multitalented and multicultural. Ultimately, Kaitesi’s mission through the blog is to change the narrative about the African woman. Last year Teakisi was awarded the Versatile Blogger award by other peer bloggers in recognition for the high-quality writing, images, and uniqueness of its content.