Meet Elisabetta Colabianchi, founder of non-profit organization, Kurandza, and passionate advocate for women's empowerment and self-esteem. Elisabetta has dedicated her life and career to helping girls and women all over the world step into their leadership. Read our interview with Elisabetta below as she details the inspiration behind the non-profit she started with her best friend, what she's learned by being of service (in short, a lot!), and how she incorporates self-care into her full life.
How does giving and being of service, play a role in your life?
I’ve always loved volunteering and being of service, ever since I was little. During college, I volunteered at a couple different orphanages in Tijuana, and then after college, I moved to Mozambique to volunteer for three years with the Peace Corps. What I’ve learned is that giving and being of service can be something that I incorporate into every part of my life—from being generous with my time, money, and kindness, to basing my career on making a difference!
What inspired you to serve the girls and women of Mozambique?
My love of international travel, volunteering, and learning languages inspired me to sign up for the Peace Corps, which is what brought me to Mozambique in the first place. At the time, Peace Corps didn’t allow us to choose which country we would be placed in. So I was patient and open to whatever was presented to me. I fell in love with Mozambique—it’s welcoming, friendly, and very outgoing people, it’s delicious food, it’s beautiful beaches… I loved it so much that I renewed my contract for a third year. I stayed an extra year to start a sewing cooperative to help provide HIV+ women with an income generation project so that they could pay for transportation to reach the hospital every month and stay on their anti-retroviral treatment. Since then, I’ve created my non-profit, Kurandza, to continue working towards empowering women to become leaders in their communities, and we’ve since added another major focus to help girls have access to education.
What have the women and girls you serve taught you?
The women have taught me to be patient, understanding, and generous—I’ve noticed especially how generous and hospitable they are even though they have less material wealth than most people in developed countries, yet they are far more generous than the average person in the Western world. I have become so inspired by that and have aspired to be like them in that way—loving life and enjoying every minute of it—even if that means giving the shirt of your back to someone else in need. They take life less seriously—probably because death is something they deal with on a regular basis and they know that it can happen at any moment. They really live life to the fullest and it’s so inspiring to live life from this perspective.
How do you incorporate self-care into your life?
After becoming burned out twice, I finally realized that taking care of myself is my number 1 priority. This means making sure to eat healthy, exercise, have morning and night-time routines, and most importantly to know that I am not the same as my business. We are two separate entities, and I can take a step back and take a break from time to time. Focusing on having other hobbies, taking trips just to travel for fun and not always to work, and treating myself with personal development, retreats, massages, fun classes, and other treats now and then is so nourishing and necessary for me to stay at my best and continue to make the impact that I wish to create in the world!
How has being of service to girls and women impacted your own self-love?
Being of service to these women (and them really being of service to me too because it’s definitely a win-win relationship) has created so much joy in my life. I love what I do and I’m constantly inspired by this work. I truly believe that one of the best ways to practice self-love is to enjoy life and participate in activities that light you up. Being able to work with these girls and women as my career is definitely something that lights me up! I’m also proud of myself for the impact I’ve helped create and for the risks I’ve taken and challenges I’ve endured because of my devotion to my cause.
What is your long-term vision for Kurandza and beyond?
My long-term vision for Kurandza is to continue providing scholarships to girls and even include college scholarships in the future. I also would love to create a leadership academy and vocational center in Mozambique, to help teach life skills to more women and girls, and also help more women start their own small businesses.
One of the most exciting aspects of my long-term vision is to create more partnerships and more community. I’m excited that this year we will have our first Empowerment Trip to Mozambique, and we’re also growing our giveback partnership program. I love collaborating with like-minded women entrepreneurs and organizations, and I can’t wait to see all of the impact we can make together.
If you could stand on the peak of a mountain and say or shout one thing, that all of the girls and women in the world would hear, what would it be?
That you are enough! That you are amazing and you can do or be anything you want to in the world!
So many of the women and girls that I work with are struggling with self-confidence. I know that greatness is within them as long as they believe in themselves! This is the same with the women I work with through my Global Dream Collective community. I work with inspiring women who have so much to offer the world, they just need to take the next step of believing in themselves to actually make their dreams happen.
To learn more about Elisabetta's non-profit, Kurandza, or to take action, visit the Kurandza website at www.kurandza.org or follow their updates on Instagram @lovekurandza.