Krochet Kids International’s (KKi) motto is: “Buy a hat. Change a life.” Though it seems like a simple idea, this organization has been able to help Peruvian and Ugandan women rise above poverty on their own by teaching them a creative trade: crocheting.
It all started in Spokane, Washington, when Kohl Crecelius, Travis Hartanov, and Stewart Ramsey (co-founders and best friends) began crocheting in high school. Nicknamed “the Krochet Kids,” they created their own headgear for winter sports and sold custom pieces. It wasn’t until the young men went to college and traveled abroad that they realized that their talents could be used for a bigger purpose.
According to the World Bank, 24.5 percent of the Ugandan population and 27.8 percent of the Peruvian population live below the poverty line. When Ramsey visited Uganda in 2006 he heard from many citizens that they wanted jobs, not aid or handouts. So, the trio decided to turn their small business into a non-profit that would teach women to turn yarn into profitable products and a living wage.
In 2008, KKi began with 10 people flying to Uganda and teaching 10 women how to crochet.
Now they help over 100 women in Northern Uganda and Peru. Their offices abroad mentor women on their craft and help them set up a profile on the KKi website to sell their goods online. The program also includes mentorship in financial literacy and access to a “low-interest, non-formal loans” and savings plan.
The women in Peru and Uganda currently make 25 accessories, from hats, headbands, bowties, and scarves to stockings and hat ornaments. Products come with a tag, signed by the maker. There are online message boards where you can thank the woman and learn more about her.
These products have definitely been successful. In 2011, the product sales grew to nearly $2 million, a 285 percent increase from 2010. KKi has recognized this past December by the American Giving Awards. They received the Community Builder award and $500,000. In the future, KKi hopes to continue expanding their services in Peru and spreading awareness, showing people the power of purchasing products that positively impact the lives of others.