Imani Collective: Dr. Jenny Nuccio Empowering Women in Africa

Dr. Jenny Nuccio, founder of Imani Collective © Yasyas Films by Yassir Hassan

By Allie Murray

After visiting a remote village in Kenya as a student in 2009, Dr. Jenny Nuccio had no idea that trip would redefine her life’s trajectory. Now, some 15 years later, Nuccio calls Kenya home, working with women in the area on her brand Imani Collective.

Imani Collective first launched as a small training program to empower women in the region and later expanded to become a nonprofit that operates as a holding company for other brands of artisans in Africa.

“This was more than a project, it was a promise to myself and to the women I’d grown to love, to create opportunities for education and employment as a means to true empowerment,” Nuccio explained.

Some of the brands featured within Imani Collective include Imani + Kids, ethically made goods for kids; Talanta, a talent agency that represents creative talent in Africa; Selah, ethically made small batch home and lifestyle goods; the School of Ethical Impact, an institute and community equipping changemakers with the confidence and tools to create ethical impact through business, which was co-founded by Nuccio herself; and so much more.

Many of the brands of Imani Collective have been lifesavers for women in Africa, including a woman named Immaculate, who Nuccio shared had walked through their doors at the Old Town location in 2016 in need of help.

imani collective
Dr. Jenny Nuccio © Yasyas Films by Yassir Hassan

Nuccio explained that their budget was tight—having just opened a new location—but seeing a fellow mother in need, she couldn’t turn her away. Nuccio offered Immaculate a job on the spot.

“Immaculate was reserved at first—she was reluctant to share her journey with us,” Nuccio said. “One morning, I found her and her son asleep outside our workshop. I knew that she was not in a good place, but I didn’t realize that she didn’t even have a place to sleep at night. So, I trusted my instincts and gave her keys to the workshop so she could use it as a safe space. It took two years for Immaculate to open up about her past. With newfound confidence and a smile, she revealed her journey from despair to hope.”

Immaculate had been abandoned by her husband and left with nothing. After finding her way back to herself with Imani Collective, she went on to start her own business in Tanzania, surrounded by a community of people who uplifted her.

Looking towards the future, Nuccio plans to significantly expand Imani Collective’s training and development work in Kenya to continually meet the needs of local communities.

“I want people to feel empowered knowing that every purchase they make is a vote for the type of world they want to live in,” Nuccio said. “Moving forward, I hope people will take the time to learn about the brands they support and choose those that prioritize fair practices.”

In addition to her work with Imani Collective, Nuccio holds a Doctorate in Education along with an M.Ed in Leadership Development and Communications. She’s recently released a book titled Let It Be Wild, where she recounts the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial journey and how she found her ‘why’ in Kenya.

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