The Ujamaa Collective meets at the intersection of arts, culture and entrepreneurship. Seen as a national cooperative model, non-profit Ujamaa Collective’s mission is to create spaces, opportunities, networks, education and support for marginalized Africana women to grow as entrepreneurs, artisans and servant leaders so that “we may lift as we climb.” The grassroots organization believes in using cooperative strategies to serve the mutual needs of the creative community and are committed to activating opportunities specifically in craft and artisan industries and believe that artists can be workers, developing their skills as entrepreneurs. Ujamaa has a focus on local & global fair trade, and seeks to connect Africana makers around the world with a fusion of traditional and contemporary crafts and design.
Ujamaa Collective offers community-based arts and maker programming, including STEAM-based activities for teen girls, as well as expressive cultural-arts making workshops for youth of all ages. 2017 was the pilot year for our Aya Duafe Arts & Entrepreneurship Program for girls ages ages 15-21 and specifically focused on fashion design with the enrolled cohort. Additionally, Ujamaa engages Pittsburgh residents and international visitors, young and old, in courageous conversations over healthy food to further understand and celebrate history, culture and diverse populations. Since the spring of 2010, the non-profit has offered place-making in community settings to emerging and professional artists through open-air and holiday themed marketplaces, including the Summer Delights programming, which includes a focus on children’s literacy and storytelling. Additionally, through partnerships with various organizations across Pittsburgh, Ujamaa and its members have provided pop-up programming for young people that has varied from culinary arts to fashion design to West African drum and dance. Currently community arts programming is being offered to girls at Arsenal Middle School once per week, with a focus on building healthy relationships with the African immigrant and refugee population.
Ujamaa Collective is based in the One Hope Square Building on the Centre Avenue business corridor of the Hill District. This space provides a home for Ujamaa’s maker space which will feature equipment such as sewing machines, a 3D printer and a vinyl cutter, as well as other tools, and arts and craft supplies. The multi-purpose Creative Classroom hosts multiple workshops for folks to learn about fair trade, local economies, entrepreneurship and whatever the community requires!
Ujamaa Collective has been serving over 150 marginalized artists and artisan groups through its retail boutique program, connecting their handmade merchandise to thousands of customers for the past eight years. The organization began in 2008 as a self-help approach by Africana women and mothers in an effort to support themselves, their children and the community at large.