Mbare was born out of an independent study taken during the time that our founder, Robbie Stewart, was enrolled in the TCU MBA program from 1992-1994. “During the second year of the MBA program, while most students were focused on securing their employment with large companies, it became clear to me that I wanted to use the skills I had acquired during the MBA program to improve the lives of people living in Africa” he said. “What I found interesting was that there was a wealth of knowledge and expertise within many communities in Africa that didn’t have access to formal education.
From the beginning, my mission has always been to create sustainable sources of income for people and communities existing outside the influence of the formal economy. I saw an opportunity to do that through the handcraft that is produced in these communities and at the same time share this cultural knowledge and skill with consumers in the first world.”
So on trips back to the United States from his native Zimbabwe, Robbie began carrying as many products as his suitcases could hold. Retailers showed interest in these products and the products sold – feedback from customers lead to additional products being imported. “From the start of my career, I’ve always wanted to maintain my ties to my home, to Africa and to its people. Mbare has made that possible,” he adds.