Ripples USA was established in 2005 as a response to the societal, cultural, and economic difficulties faced by minority groups in the UK. Our CEO and founder, Anne Toba, noticed that in particular, women and children arriving from African countries struggled to adjust to the new cultures and customs surrounding them. Thus, she formed Ripples (formerly BME Concern) to support and navigate families through government assistance programs, public housing, work benefits, etc. Ripples also worked to alleviate cultural misunderstandings, serving as an interface between minority families and the police; for the African women that Ripples worked with, women were accustomed to patriarchal societies, in which topics such as domestic violence that were regarded seriously in the UK could have gone previously unaddressed for them. Thus, Ripples worked with local Police forces in the Kent to help them understand the situations of migrant families, but also to educate those families on different customs and ways of life.
By 2011, the Ripples USA expanded its outreach to Africa: we started programs in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. We began our enterprise program to give women a hand up, rather than giving a hand out to African communities: by equipping them with the business skillset and financial means necessary to provide for themselves and their families. Women were empowered to fight societal and systemic oppression while simultaneously giving back to their own communities. Ripples initially started working with women individually on projects, but decided to change our methodology after finding that our women were often unable to return loaned Ripples funds due to illnesses in their families, educational payments, and a variety of other challenges. As a result, we changed our approach and decided that our programs were better fit for larger groups, allowing program targets to still be met, even when some group members faced difficulties. We established women in groups of ten. This we found out that our optimal number per group was 10. This allowed women to support each other when family members are sick, and ensure that the group can pay back their loans. This continues to be our magic number even now for our Beekeepers, pottery makers in Madagascar, and Sustainable Farming in Nigeria.
Ripples prides itself on the fact that our programs are designed to address the direct needs of women, and we decide our work through town hall meetings and code signing Programs with locals. In these meetings, Ripples women tell us what they need in their lives and how we can support them as an organization. What Ripples always discovered was that while our women entrepreneurship programs were incredibly powerful and created sustainable change, women still struggled with medical challenges. Often, children would become sick and women would be unable to go to work because they needed to stay at home to take care of their children. In response to women’s requests, Ripples launched an ongoing Medical Outreach initiative, delivering containers of medical equipment and supplies to villages. Ripples also partners with local medical professionals to ensure that even after our missions are completed, with Ripples personnel on the ground will be able to continue with follow-up medical appointments.
Since we first started in 2005, we have grown immensely and have received invitations from nearly every African country to begin our programs in their communities. While Ripples would love to expand in every country in Africa, we simply do not have the financial means necessary for that. Since 2011, we have completed our program in Cameroon and have launched new initiatives in Ghana, while still continuing those we started in Nigeria and Madagascar. We have maintained our medical outreach and female entrepreneurship campaigns, but We are in need of Medical partners who would be able to support our local medical teams and help us deliver our Medical Outreach Programs. Ripples is immensely grateful for its countless donors and volunteers and we hope that as more people learn about our mission, our very hard working women, they will support our cause, buy their products at AfriNotes.sanamo.net, and SkinNotes.sanamo.net and help us continue to support more women and give them the opportunity to work their way out of poverty and secure the future of their children.