Meet the people who have brought Neema Crafts to reality, sustained it and helped to make it what it is today.
Ben Ray, Co-Director
Ben first visited Tanzania as a school leaver in 1999 with his church. Not knowing he would end up back in Tanzania, the experiences of this short trip and brief reflection helped Ben on his journey to Neema Crafts.
Ben studied Product Design and Manafacture and in previous years before coming to Tanzania has visited South Africa and Tanzania where he was first challenged by the hopelessness he witnessed amongst young unemployed men and women. He works as a Design and Technology teacher in the UK before Katy and Ben felt called to Neema Crafts.
Today, Ben oversees the finance and operations of Neema Crafts. He also works closely with the carpentry department to develop production and design of furniture and lighting.
Katy Ray, Co-Director
Katy's expertise is in design and textiles. In the UK, she established her own business creating silk lampshades, cushions, printed notebooks, cards and ceramics.
Katy had visited Tanzania several times before she came to work at Neema Crafts. Katy and Ben partnered with CMS (Christian Mission Society) and undertook training at All Nations College and headed out to Iringa, Tanzania in May 2011.
Today, Katy is creative director at Neema Crafts. She both designs and oversees the implementation of new products. She also works closely with the orders and sales teams to ensure that products are brought to market effectively.
Susie Hart MBE, the founder of Neema Crafts, was herself born with a disability. She had many operations throughout her childhood and spent much of her time in a wheel chair or in plaster casts to give her the mobility she enjoys today.
When she came to Tanzania with her husband Andy, she recognised the need to provide training and employment for people with disabilities who would otherwise be street begging to earn a living. She developed initial product ideas and sought out markets before starting Neema Crafts in 2003 with three young deaf men.
Now in the UK, Susie has continued to support the work of Neema Crafts through fund-raising events and giving talks. In 2012 Susie was honoured for her extraordinary work with people with disabilities in Africa when she received an MBE.
Susie has now set up a new organization called Artizan International, which works with people with disabilities in the UK and across the world.