We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Wiederholt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, what do you attribute your success to?
The success of Crazy Love Africa is directly attributed to the beautiful women in Uganda whom which we have empowered with our programs. Opportunities and empowerment bring confidence and thus blossom into economic and social transformations. The success lies in the hands of the women whom we serve. By elevating our sister’s voices we not only impact the lives of women living with HIV in western Uganda but also their children and entire communities. Our core program is using micro-business grants as an effective strategy for alleviating poverty and empowering single women who are living with HIV. By pouring belief into our global sisters through a business grant we give them the abiity to direct their own future by offering a hand up from charity to possibility through building economic capacity. Our success is created through building community among all women who join our programs. Within community a strong sisterhood is formed. This reduces stigma among women living with HIV thus bringing them confidence and hope. Many of the women when they 1st join Crazy Love Africa, are living in fear, afraid to disclose their HIV status to anyone. Being able to gather in a safe setting where they can mentor and support one another is key to the success of their economic, health, and social wellbeing. While their is a strong partnership between our U.S. staff and Board of Directors and our Ugandan Staff, all decisions are made by listening to the needs of the women with whom we serve. The ideas and dreams of our Crazy Love Africa Ugandan sisters are what drives us to carry out our mission each day.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Crazy Love Africa is in the business of global development. Our mission focuses on women in Ugandan who are both single mothers and living with HIV. This more narrow focus sets us apart from so many other non-profits who are doing work globally. We are able to intently listen to the women we serve and set our vision to meet their needs. 100% of our donations are poured back into our sisters and programs in Uganda. We are excited about giving our sisters opportunities through artisan training, business education, mentorship, and micro-business grants. But, most of all through the sisterhood of Crazy Love Africa they gain a family that gives them the confidence and hope needed to live a long, healthy life with HIV.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a people person. I love Denver because I love the diverse people and unique experiences of those who live here. I would definitely take my friend downtown to see the beauty of our city. But, along the way, the importance of introducing them to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and patronizing Black-owned small businesses would be high on my list.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my husband and 7 children whom for without them, I wouldn’t have the passion I do for empowering women living with HIV. They travel with me to Uganda once a year, help with countless hours of selling crafts, holiday auctions, and fundraisers. They are the biggest cheerleaders of our mission. And a special dedication to my children’s 1st mothers who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Every day as we work hard to meet the needs of our sisters in Uganda, we do so with the strength of Beshadu and Agnes in our hearts.