Jamie Jockwig, owner of Baraka Gemstones and Jewelry in Seattle, has dedicated his store to helping those less fortunate.
Jockwig, a former educator and counselor, opened his store in 2009 with the mission to help orphans in Africa. During a trip to Tanzania, he brought gemstones back to the United States and became inspired to start a jewelry business benefiting those in need.
While flying home, Jockwig was especially moved by a child sitting a few rows in front of him. “This little girl was crying. She had lost all of her family from disease and was being adopted,” Jockwig says. “Even though she was being helped, she still had pain."
Jockwig learned that the child’s name was Baraka—Swahili for “blessing”—and named his store after her.
Within the last few years his store has expanded, and recently moved to a new location to accommodate its growing business. Currently, at least 10 percent of Baraka’s sales are donated to East Africa, providing survival necessities to orphans, particularly those affected by the AIDS epidemic. He hopes to be able to donate 50 percent of profits to Africa one day. “These children are subject to conditions they didn’t ask for,” Jockwig says.
Jockwig in Africa, plus pictures of some of the jewelry he sells
Jockwig does not simply want to help out temporarily; he also plans on creating a “self-sustaining retail system” so that the children can grow up with a sense of independence. “In the future I want to train children so that they can take care of themselves,” Jockwig says. “I want to encourage them to use their passion and creativity to sell their own products.”