Mom creates backpack business to give back to her community

Elissa Rivas Image
Monday, May 14, 2018
Mom creates backpack business to give back to her community
Meet the Houston mom who was inspired to start her own business through a trip to Africa.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A life-changing trip overseas has led one Houston mom to an inspired business idea, and a way to give back to her community.

Her business is called 'Africa On My Back.' She doesn't sell just any backpacks, and her company is far from ordinary.

Business owner Shannette Prince says the idea came to her two years ago in Ghana.

She made the journey from Houston - with her teenage son Isaiah - and it was a seminal moment for them both.

"It was the first time he had a passport stamp. So, that was huge. He was able to go to a country where everybody looked like him," said Prince. "The president, all of the ministers of education, everybody who was there who was in power, they all looked like him."

He played basketball with university students, toured museums and visited the Elmina Castle - a European slave trading post. Like other tourists, they also found themselves at the local market.

"When I came back from Ghana, the first time, I brought some backpacks, and people always asked about them," said Prince. "Where did you get the backpacks? These are really dope."

Prince decided to open her business shortly after.

"When I took Isaiah, and I saw the impact that it had on him, I said not only could this be a business, this could be more of like a social enterprise."

She began to work with suppliers in Ghana. She provided large backpack orders, allowing their small businesses to grow.

A portion of her proceeds will help pay for a group of boys to make that same trip overseas. She has a younger son, Cameron, who is eager to go.

"It is dual purpose now. So it's not just the business, it's also how can I bring other boys his age over so they can have a similar experience." Prince said.

Among the backpacks, Prince says purple is a big favorite, and it's not just teenagers who love them. A lot of adults are ordering, too.

"My audience for the trip, my audience for the small businesses are African-American and African, but if anybody else wanted a backpack - it's a backpack. It's a cool backpack. Everybody can have a backpack."