1. Notes: 8 / 3 years ago 

    New Blog & New Business

    For many years now we’ve been consulting, sort of unofficially, for lots of different individuals and companies. This year we decided to formalize it and really put some serious effort into investing in the lives of burgeoning philanthropists, non-profits, social ventures and missions programs. 

    From this point forward I’ll be blogging on the new Angaza (philanthropy consulting) website at www.jaredangaza.com. We’re gearing up for a big year for KEZA and Angaza, as well as Ilea’s (my queen) new wellness and bodywork business, Tuli. 

  2. Comments
  3. Notes: 12 / 3 years ago 

    Bringing Light

    On May 8th, 2010, I married the love of my life, Ilea Dorsey. Naturally the assumption is that we would change her last name to mine, Miller. However, it’s a rare occasion that we roll with the status quo. When we first started talking about marriage, I tossed out the idea of changing both of our last names when we got married. And Ilea was totally open to it (because she’s the coolest).

    We know it sounds crazy, but…does it really? Why not? We can change our name if we want to. And we can make it something that reflects who we are, how we live our lives, what we believe in; something we will pass down to our children with pride.

    We spoke to my parents about the concept as soon as we started entertaining the idea for real. My father’s words were “I certainly hope we leave a bigger legacy behind us than our last name (Miller). We believe in what you’re doing and you have our complete support.” I don’t think I could have wished for a better reply than that.

    We’ve been researching names for a year now. From the beginning I was committed to a Swahili name because I love the culture and have followed it since I was a child. So I enlisted my good friend Bachu Anwar, a Swahili Rasta, born in Kenya. He’s a close friend and knows me well. His mother is an iconic Swahili woman and a historian of their culture. They agreed to walk us through the naming process.

    Many friends have shared their thoughts on what the name should represent. Our good friend Greg Skye (Skye Chiropractic) said, “It should be something that speaks to you spreading light into other’s lives”. We put a lot of value on Dr. Skye’s intuition, so we took that to heart.

    After much debate, a lot of thought and a lot of prayer, we have come to a conclusion. Starting January 1st, we will be known as Jared & Ilea Angaza.

    angaza

    verb | Swahili origin

    1 enlighten, instruct, throw light on [figurative]

    2 shine, illuminate, be the light, give light, irradiate

    It is beautiful, exotic and a solid reflection of our ethos. We are honored to take on this name and culture. In February we will travel to Kampala, Uganda to experience the naming ceremony, conducted by Bachu and his mother. This is truly an honor. We are in the midst of filing all of the legal work in the US and hope to have all of our documents (Social Security, Passports, License, IRS, etc.) switched over within the next six months.

    Yep, it’s a little crazy and out of the norm, but that’s par for the course for us. We’re ready to start our family, with a name we have deliberately chosen, as a proclamation of who we are.

    Much love and Many Blessings,

    Jared & Ilea Angaza

  4. Comments
  5. Notes: 5 / 3 years ago 

    We Do What We Want

    Most people want more money, more time, better relationships, to loose more weight, to work out more, to finally go on that trip to Africa, or whatever the case may be.

    But when it comes to putting in the work, things change. We want the results of having a daily workout routine, but fail to discipline ourselves to do it. We want to travel the world, but not the work that leads to financial ability to do so.

    For every excuse we have for not doing something, we can look back in history and find someone even more disadvantaged that did it anyway. Think of the Olympic athletes with prosthetic limbs, the Helen Kellers of the world, and so on. They wanted it, they believed and they chose to make it happen, no matter what.

    We lock ourselves into imaginary boundaries from which we do not stray. Civilizations have done this since the beginning of humanity. But no matter where you come from, the education you never obtained, the family you never had, or the circumstances you are in, you can choose to follow your dreams. Just stop doing what you’ve always done and take steps in the direction you want to go.

    From the way we treat people around us, to our careers, to our humanitarian endeavors, to our character, to our weight, it is a series of choices we make based on what is most important to us.

    It’s a lot easier to just say, “that’s impossible” or “I don’t have enough money/education/time”. But I believe we all ultimately do exactly what we want to do; it’s just a matter of how badly we want it. And I don’t believe it’s any more complicated that that.

  6. Comments
  7. Notes: 7 / 3 years ago 

    For Profit Business = Greed

    Unfortunately this is the predominant belief when it comes to for-profit vs. non-profit business models. KEZA recently converted from a 501c3 non-profit charity to a for-profit social venture.

    We spent four years living in Africa so we could listen to the people/culture and learn how to serve her. We are non-traditional and innovative in all we do. KEZA is the result. Here are the top four reasons we converted to a for-profit, and I assure you none of them have to do with greed.

    Business Women Not Aid Recipients
    As long as the artisans are working for/with a non-profit aid agency, they are recognized by their community as “aid recipients”. But their resounding cry is to be recognized as business women, owning their own business, trading with a US for-profit business. (This is where the dignity comes in.)

    Business Education
    We are there to teach independence from aid. Non-profits can buffer their mistakes with donor dollars. As a for-profit, we are subject to profit and loss, like a real business. What better way to teach than to lead by example?

    Vendor Relationships
    When a boutique or department store hears that we are non-profit, they assume their orders will be late, the quality will be inferior and we will expect a lot of grace because we are “doing good”. As a for-profit, we are expected to be treated as a competitive business partner.

    Proof of Viability
    We are attempting to inspire investors and corporations to do business in Africa. As a for-profit, we are able to show them a working model that yields comparable quality and profitability, yet remains ethically grounded. There is no better way to entice an investor than to show her proof.

    KEZA is a for-profit because we work for Africa, and she’s asking for trade, not aid.

  8. Comments
  9. Notes: 3 / 3 years ago 

    We Can All Live In Wonderland

    I’ve heard “Jared lives in his own little world” since I was a toddler. I now understand that to mean “Jared doesn’t live in reality”. I disagree.

    I believe the world is exactly what we make it. We create our own reality. What may be steadfast and true in my reality may be entirely absurd in someone else’s.

    Bob Goff invents holidays, unites world leaders, incites parades, brings justice to Uganda, creates peace treaties and defines a lasting goodbye when he and his family jump fully clothed into the lake, waving as others sail away in a boat.

    This is more representative of lunacy than reality for most people. But I think it’s a choice.

    I live in a world full of dreams, faith and whimsy where anything is possible if you believe. Relationships always trump trivial things like time, money and comfort. Each step of life is raw and deliberate. I believe loyalty, vulnerability and honesty to be among the most imperative of characteristics. And I believe there is purpose to everything.

    “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life; to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

    I’m convinced that most people considered to be “crazy” are actually the ones that really get it. (Tom Waits, you are Leviticusly Deuteronomous.)

    I think the secret to happiness is a life of whimsy and ubuntu (and Mariachi music helps).

    “Alice in Suburbia” might have been a bit of a letdown. It’s Wonderland that intrigues us; the mystery, the adventure and the Mad Hatter; wide eyed and awestruck.  I choose Wonderland. Why not?

  10. Comments
  11. Notes: 1 / 3 years ago 

    Snow Globes

    In America, the land of freedom, there is a tendency to create a Snow Globe world. People create a way of life that is comfortable and safe. They find others with similar beliefs and lifestyles and develop a culture or religion. We often refer to their dwellings as “the suburbs”. Anything outside the Snow Globe is generally believed to be scary, off limits, unattainable and downright crazy.

    Snow Globers spend most of their life creating parameters and limitations for themselves. “I cannot do this because…” There’s a lot of fear involved, but it’s typically overshadowed by the appearance of success via material wealth. They are not ignorant of this dynamic either; it is a deliberate practice.

    Comfort, security (job, financial, relationship) and normality are the cornerstones of the Snow Globe. They share a sacred agreement that taking risks, thinking outside the box, traveling the world, and the absence of a 9-5 job and 401k is reckless and irresponsible. “Impossible” is the excuse most commonly used to describe dreams and ideas outside the Snow Globe.

    They would have radically disapproved of revolutionaries such as Einstein, Galileo, Gandhi, Pollock and Gates during their journeys. These guys took huge risks and lived far beyond the bounds of the Snow Globe. They believed in crazy ideas developed in their garages. They were ostracized and condemned for habitual defiance of the status quo.

    This mentality often develops and fosters an underlying myopic “us and them” doctrine, separating them from humanity.

    And then there are the crazies that believe they are all interconnected and anything is possible when we believe and stand together. They don’t let fear or limitations detour them from anything they believe in. They call them humanitarians, delusional, reckless. I call it ubuntu. The way we were created.

  12. Comments
  13. Notes: 1 / 4 years ago 

    Competitor or Collaborator?

    People tend to run from competition, often to the extent of attempting to squelch the success of their peers. They fear their methods or designs will be copied or vanquished. This contributes to a lot of undue stress and counter productivity.

    Fashion is a $298 Billion per year industry in the US. Consumerism is already turning towards more ethical and earth friendly production methods, as well as hand crafted goods. There’s plenty of pie out there for all of us.

    Ethical Fashion is in its infancy, at best.  Even those producing similar products are far from saturating the market. There is much to be done to prove ethical production methods can yield equal or greater results than that of more predominant exploitative business practices. The public will need more than a few successful examples before becoming believers. We need our peers to succeed as well.

    Furthermore, competition breeds quality. If I design a necklace and my competitor designs a better one, what do you think I will do next? The absence of competition fosters mediocrity.

    I can choose to view competitors as a threat, or a vital collaborator; my choice. We welcome the opportunity to work together to educate the public, build a more robust market and challenge each other to create better goods.

    Imagine how much less creative Apple would be in the absence of Dell. There’d probably be a lot less of you reading this on an iPad. Iron sharpens iron, if you choose to engage in the process.

    Besides, we don’t have the budget for the amount of publicity we need to impact the image of Africa. Knowing there are hundreds of other organizations out there proving the viability of our business model and contributing to the growth of our market brings me a lot of comfort.

    *As a testament to our practice of collaboration, we will partner with 5-10 of our biggest competitors to produce an ethical fashion show and pop-up shop in February. Details coming soon at keza.com.

  14. Comments
  15. Notes: 6 / 4 years ago 

    REBRANDING AFRICA: Expectations

    Developing Nations are not often recognized for excellence. However, this has little to do with the level of talent and determination found in these areas. There are thousands of extraordinary artisans and competent entrepreneurs yet to have the opportunity to present their design and product to the international market.

    Decades of focus on the negative aspects of these nations has created a pervasive image of inferiority. But we know firsthand of the tremendous wealth of talent found there. As long as we treat these nations as charity cases, we will continue to limit their capabilities and (negatively) influence their level of output.

    If we showcase their excellence, we could change the image of the developing world as well as the expectations of their potential market. It’s time for a paradigm shift in what we expect from these nations.

    “It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” - John Steinbeck

  16. Comments
  17. Notes: 3 / 4 years ago 

    REBRANDING AFRICA: Environment Matters

    In 2007, The Washington Post did an experiment on context, perception and priorities in which Joshua Bell, an internationally acclaimed musical virtuoso, stationed himself in the Metro, playing his violin (valued at $4 Million) for passersby. He was perceived as any other bum trying to make a buck in the subway station. You can read the story here

    Immanuel Kant (18th Century German Philosopher) argued that “to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal”. In the banal setting of the metro station, while preoccupied with work and life, the brilliance of Bell’s performance was all but lost.

    This experiment testifies to the importance of branding. If I took a Jackson Pollack painting, put it on a wall in a high school cafeteria and said my nephew did it, people would think it’s cute. If I show that same painting at the Museum Of Modern Art, where most of them reside, it would have a price tag of around $140 Million (the price David Geffen paid for his). So by this rationale, the environment in which art or talent is displayed has much to do with its perceived value.

    The majority of African art, fashion and talent are relegated to flea markets, craft fairs, missions conferences and poorly designed websites and promo materials. This is certainly not an environment to promote beauty and excellence. Consequently, the perceived value of African products is that of inferiority.

    If these very same products are showcased in beautiful websites, promotional products, high end magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair and on celebrities walking the red carpet, it’s a game changer. Instantly the perceived value skyrockets.

    Branding is essentially the creation of the environment in which our products or services will be judged.

  18. Comments
  19. Notes: 3 / 4 years ago 

    REBRANDING AFRICA: Image is Everything

    Building a solid brand that fuels a better image for Africa can create an even bigger impact than the direct jobs you are creating with your business.

    For instance, with KEZA, we stand to generate 200-500 lucrative careers for African artists and entrepreneurs over the next 2 years. This is powerful and easily quantified. In order for these businesses to thrive, KEZA must sell the goods they create. The proliferation of these products builds the perceived value of the brand and ultimately results in more product sales.

    All of this represents a solid social venture and certainly serves Africa well. However, the image it creates may be even more profound. When an investor is being courted to invest in a country like Rwanda, they do their research. They sit down to read the New York Times or Fast Company and look for indicators that would lead them to invest, or run from it.

    When an investor sees articles about African fashion showing up on celebrities at red carpet events, or showcased for excellence, it makes an impression. The image makes Africa much more palatable and attractive for investment and visiting.

    The proliferation of KEZA products fuels the brand value. That value fuels an image of the beauty and excellence of Africa. That image fuels investment and tourism, contributing significantly to a solid economical foundation for Africa.

    KEZA’s focus is just as much on enhancing the image of Africa as it is on directly creating lucrative careers. Why? Because that image creates many more careers than we could ever create from the sale of our fashion goods.

    Remember the old Andre Agassi (Canon) campaign, “Image Is Everything”? Like it or not, there’s a lot of truth to that.

  20. Comments
  21. Notes: 2 / 4 years ago 

    The Beautiful Things

    I am diligent about being aware and in tune with my surroundings. I appreciate the little things that often go unnoticed. I take time to “smell the roses” and listen to the world around me. But every now and then, something hits me from out of the blue; something so magnificent and beautiful it causes me to pause and really soak it in.

    I was recently at a concert where the ten piece band played with such extreme emotion that it whisked me away into one of the surreal places. Music has always been a very soulful experience for me; it moves me.

    While standing there swaying and watching the images of art and beauty projected on the wall, I drifted away, basking in the beauty of sound and unity amongst the crowd. We were one, if for only a couple hours.

    I reflected on the beautiful things in my life. Not just the images, but the experiences, like that all encompassing feeling of love I feel when I see my wife at the airport after being away for a few days. That surreal moment of sitting on Lake Kivu (Congo) with friends, watching the red glow of an 18,000 foot volcano flanked by the full moon over the lake.

    There are times when I physically feel the intensity of God’s beauty and power around me. It’s always there, always available. And no matter how often it happens, every now and then…POW. It hits me, and I’m in awe. I love that. 

  22. Comments
  23. 4 years ago 

    RE-BRANDING AFRICA: This is Better Than That

    If I’m a photographer working in Africa, I’m going look for the most mind blowing and disturbing images I can capture. That’s my purpose. I gather pictures of starvation, disease, filthy hospitals, rebels with guns, dictators with gold plated vehicles and children with distended bellies and flies on their faces.

    I will use these photos to expose the plight of Africa and advocate my cause. More tragedy results in more donor funds. Let’s face it; the race for donor funds is quite competitive in the midst of a recession in the US. If I want my pictures to do any good, they better capture the worst and most compelling images I can find.

    We’re living in a time where the media is constantly pushing the envelope with new levels of violence and tragedy. It’s become a competition of sorts. Whoever is more shocking wins, and it takes a lot to shock society these days. We see a similar dynamic affecting the humanitarian world.

    But what if the most beautiful images won? What if the media depicted Africa the way they do Australia or the United States; as a destination for beauty, adventure and rich culture? How would that change the world’s view of Africa? How might this effect the number of tourists and investors coming to Africa?

    This is obviously a bit idealistic, but why not? At some point, the beauty of Africa has to be more attractive and compelling than its demise. It’s time for a paradigm shift in how we represent the Mother Land.

  24. Comments
  25. 4 years ago 

    This Must Be Faith

    Most of my life has been so tumultuous and insane that the majority of people I meet can’t even fit it into their reality. There are a lot of things that just don’t make sense in the short term. I am a magnet for the ridiculous, the insane and often the supernatural.

    Through the years, I’ve learned to view life as a lot more complex than moment to moment experiences. I believe everything has a purpose and the outcome is not dependent on my understanding. When I look through that “everything has purpose” lens, I am at peace with the fact that days, months or even years of experiences may play just a small role in a much more elaborate plan that I am not yet capable of fathoming.

    These outlandish experiences are serving a purpose, somewhere in this universe. My experiences and time within those experiences may one day enlighten me to their purpose, or not. It really makes no difference to me. Maybe I’m playing a role in a much grander purpose that I will never fully comprehend. I’ve resolved that I am willing to serve a purpose even if I don’t understand it.

    If the trials of life don’t build character, strength to endure, and faith in God’s omnipotence, what is it all for? What’s the point? I have the ability to choose to grow from it or let it beat me down and defeat me. It’s my choice. That’s our “free will”.

    Life is often tragic, and contrary to the karmic belief that has comforted and compelled so much of society.  But my belief that it all has purpose gives me peace. It allows me to persist when all other logic tells me to throw in the towel. This must be faith.

  26. Comments
  27. Notes: 1 / 4 years ago 

    RE-BRANDING AFRICA: Entrepreneurs Empower the Poor

    For many years, KEZA has focused on what the aid world refers to as the “poorest of the poor”. It’s become another buzz term like “sustainability” or “capacity building”. These terms help attract volunteers, donors and public awareness.

    However, we’ve recently taken a step back to reanalyze our methodology. There are thousands of entrepreneurs all over Africa that have been working diligently to develop their businesses to the point of sustainability. They have thrashed, suffered and pushed through the hardships and their business is plugging along, but they still can’t quite get over the hump to profitability. 

    These entrepreneurs have proven their dedication and certainly deserve our respect and attention. If their businesses grow beyond mere sustainability and really start to thrive, they have the opportunity to really make an impact in their community, beyond just serving their personal needs. 

    A thriving entrepreneurial business means a larger capacity to produce, which means more employees needed and more products being exported. If these products are superior in quality and style, that leads to positive press in the media and a lot of public attention. All of these things help to fuel a brand of excellence and beauty, resulting in a heightened image for their country.

    In short, we’ve realized that if we empower the entrepreneurial sector to grow their businesses, they will employ the poorest of the poor, export more goods, do it with excellence and help fuel an image of excellence for their country. That image compels investors, business people and tourists to visit and invest in their country.

    There are many ways to serve the developing world. We (KEZA) believe empowering the entrepreneurial sector plays a vital role in creating a solid foundation, built on indigenous businesses.

  28. Comments
  29. Notes: 1 / 4 years ago 

    RE-BRANDING AFRICA: She is not a Charity Case

    The Rwandan women we serve are former prostitutes. They’ve been beaten, raped and oppressed to a point where the only viable method for supporting themselves and their babies was to sell their bodies. Society regularly humiliated them to the point that they believed they were worthless.*

    It would be easy for us to tell that story all over the world, knowing it would pull on heart strings and likely compel people to donate or buy products. This methodology would certainly be in line with typical aid agency tactics for support.

    One day I was talking with one of the pioneers of this initiative named Virginia. I asked her what she wanted me to tell the people about her experience with KEZA. She said “I am no longer known as a prostitute, I am known as a successful business woman”. I literally broke down in tears.

    That prompted me to ask all of the women how they wanted to be represented to the world. It’s astonishing how seldom this question is asked of aid recipients. Every woman stepped forward and said something along the lines of “we don’t want to be known for our past, we want to be known for who we are now”.

    If you constantly treat someone as a charity case, they are likely to limit themselves accordingly. If we branded Africa as a bastion of beauty and excellence, we might see more of it coming out of her. People may begin to believe in themselves. She’s experienced decades of aid agencies telling her she’s unworthy, inept and incapable of excellence; that she needs their help in order to survive. How would that make you feel? 

    We need to flip the switch, start believing in Africa and brand her accordingly. It might just become a self fulfilling proclamation.

    *You will never hear these stories in KEZA promotional materials. We committed to only telling the stories the women wanted us to tell; the ones of beauty and excellence. We would never use their past to garner funds. They deserve better than that.

  30. Comments
avatar_128
 
 
These are my thoughts, and more likely my agendas. Let’s call a spade a spade. I want to inspire people to treat each other with love and respect, and to live each second as if it were our last.

At the end of the day, I appreciate the journey, good and bad. I believe there is purpose in everything; literally everything. And the more I embrace that, the more I truly live; the more peace I have.

I believe in the social entrepreneur model, as opposed to the traditional forms of aid that have crippled developing nations for decades. And on top of that, I believe the fashion industry is one of the best industries to leverage as a tool to combat poverty and help restore dignity to developing nations. So that's my thing. If that's not appealing, you might want to read a different blog.

I believe in the power and importance of ubuntu. I aspire to do more…more than I have to. I won’t "change the whole world", but I intend to make some significant improvements along the way as I try. And I’ll fight for all sorts of justice, up to the day they throw dirt on me.

I thank God that I get to live this life. Carpe diem.

+ Comments are welcome. I'd love for this to be a two way conversation. +
 

Jared's Biography

Jared N Miller is President/CEO of KEZA, a couture fashion label building fashion businesses in Africa for underprivileged women. Click here to read his biography.
 
 

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