Total loan: $6,500


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New York, NY, United States / Arts

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A loan helped provide quality, affordable African art for all.

Nnennaya's story

I was born in Arochukwu, a small cultural village in the Eastern part of Nigeria, but raised in Aba about 300 miles away with my six brothers and sisters. Aba was populated by all kinds of entrepreneurs, including my parents, who worked from dawn to dusk to provide for their families. My parents involved all seven children in their homegrown restaurant and sport goods store. We learned that it took hard work, dedication, quality products and customer service to make a successful business. During festivals and holidays, dad took us back to the village where we were exposed to cultural celebrations of art shows, ritualistic events, Igbo culture, music and dancing, oral traditions and masquerades. We were exposed to the villagers’ homestyle decors, as well. After higher education in New York City, I worked with very young children in urban Day Care Centers for 21 years. Looking back, this was my way of giving back because it had taken a community to raise me! The last 6 years of my teaching career were spent developing the first 3 Children’s Centers in the New York City Courts, for which efforts I was awarded by the National Child Labor Committee with, The 1989 Professional Special Citation Award for Professional Service to Children and Youth. Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, won same award in 1990 for Volunteer Service to Children and Youth. After my teaching career, I opened Ashione Gallery in 1992, selling African art. I had struggled to find authentic and affordable African artworks when my children were small.