Kwanza Collections was formed in 2001 as the marketing arm of Amka Registered Trustees, to export the handicrafts of rural artisans and small-scale producer groups working with Amka. Amka, which means “to awaken” in Swahili, was formed in 1994 with the support of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and funded by the British government. Kwanza Collections is an independent private limited company, which was registered in 1999 and started operations in June 2001.
Kwanza (which means “first” in Swahili) exports the handicrafts of 800 batik artisans, potters, woodcarvers and artisans making musical instruments and textiles in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and other areas of the country. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from Tanzania through Kwanza Collections and other suppliers based in Tanzania since 1998.