Hands of Mothers (Manos de Madres) was founded in 2007 by Susan Moinester and her daughters, Arielle and Margot. The vision began in Honduras in 2003 with Arielle’s development of an innovative women’s craft initiative. Hands of Mothers is firmly rooted in the principles of Fair Trade and fiscally guided by a commitment to direct all income from product sales and donations directly into in-country development.

Rwanda Team

Program Manager

Yvonne Umwali - Yvonne possesses a unique background in business and social work. Her leadership of our Rwanda organization reflects both her strong management skills and her compassionate heart. She is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of women and contributing to the development of her country.

Enterprise Development Manager

Merveille Mutamuriza - The Enterprise Development Manager is responsible for developing the capacity of cooperatives and small businesses so that they can prosper independently of outside support. Merveille has an extensive and varied background in training and development with a focus on vulnerable women and children.

Management Associates

Immaculee Icyizanye - Immaculee works with the Baho Agriculture Cooperative and the Twiyubake Leather Cooperative, connecting them to markets and assisting in the management of their businesses. Immaculee has given us permission to  share her story.

Nancy Ishimwe - As a Management Associate, Nancy works with the Ejo Hazaza jewelry cooperative in administration and marketing. In addition, Nancy is a student at Akilah Institute - a women's college in Kigali - thanks to the generous support of Hands of Mothers' donors. Nancy has allowed us to share her profile.

International Team

Susan Moinester - Managing Director

Susan’s career has traversed the sectors of women’s health advocacy, occupational health, and business. Susan has an extensive background in entrepreneurship and corporate marketing. From 1991 to 2009 Susan managed a personal accessories import start-up, CONNECT USA. Prior to launching CONNECT USA, she was Director of Marketing and New Product Development with the Dr. Scholl’s division of Schering Plough. Susan lives in Memphis, TN where she is actively engaged in her local community. She serves on the board of her synagogue and is the long-term Chair of the community outreach committee (“Tikkun Olam”). Susan is also a board member of Kavod, an organization dedicated to provide support for the emergency needs of Holocaust Survivors in the Memphis area.  Susan volunteers as a reading tutor with the Shelby CountyTeam Read Program and as a mentor with the innovative Tennessee Promise/tnAchieves program college program. Susan holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Brooklyn College in Psychology.

Arielle Moinester - Advisor

Arielle Moinester co-founded Hands of Mothers in an effort to bring sustainable, women-led business opportunities to agricultural communities in Honduras. She brings a wealth of experience and passion for connecting commercial and public sector strategies for resilient economic growth and food system development. Arielle is the Regional Technical Advisor (RTA) in Agroenterprise and Small Enterprise Development for the international NGO Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia (EMECA) region, previously serving in capacities of RTA and Program Manager with CRS programs in Asia and Africa. From her home base in Northern California, Arielle is a consultant to triple bottom line companies driving food system innovation to sustain our farmers, our planet, and our bodies. She shares her personal food passions as co-owner of Earthjuice, a raw juice and health food company based in her hometown of Memphis, TN. Arielle serves as a University of California, Berkeley Development Impact Lab (DIL) Practitioner in Residence, Kiva Zip Agriculture Ambassador, a founding Advisory Board Member of Ag Innovation Development Group, and a 2014 Fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. Arielle worked with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), AVRDC The World Vegetable Center in Tanzania, BioDimensions agricultural startup incubator, and the Women’s Earth Alliance India Women and Food Sovereignty Initiative. Arielle earned her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. 

Margot Moinester - Advisor

Margot Moinester became involved with Manos de Madres (Hands of Mothers) in 2007 as an Ethics Center Student Fellow at Brandeis University.  As a Fellow, Margot spent two and a half months in Kigali, Rwanda working to expand INEZA, an income generation project connected with Women's Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTx). The following summer, Margot returned as a Davis Projects for Peace recipient and worked to transition INEZA into an independent cooperative. Margot is now a doctoral student in sociology at Harvard University and serves as an advisor to Hands of Mothers.

Anastasia Karimova - Fellow

Anastasia is pursuing a master's degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with a focus on business for social impact and human security. She came to the graduate school in the US from her hometown of Moscow. In Russia, she was doing political and business journalism, women's rights advocacy and anti-corruption investigations with Transparency International. While at Fletcher, she interned with UN Women and worked as a consultant with Harvard Law and International Development Society and Fletcher Social Investment Group.

"It is impossible to achieve gender equality without economic empowerment for women. I appreciate that Hands of Mothers works with the most vulnerable and unprivileged groups of women who are fighting so hard to improve their lives. I am excited to work in Rwanda not only because I want to bring my skills to the table and to support the women's cooperatives, but because I want to learn from these unique groups of women and their struggles."