By Carolyn Tisdale
At some point after graduating from Hampton University Ashley N. Company (pictured) became an executive working a high-paying job in corporate America.
However, her true passion was found on a trip to the African nation of Kenya during the year of 2012. Company’s trip to the Motherland gave her the chance to internalize the spirit of wanting other black girls to experience the same excitement she felt during her Kenyan visit.
In 2013, she started Jelani Girls, Inc. a nonprofit organization that gives black girls and young women the opportunity to “engage, empower, and explore” while travelling the world. Company’s organization has a number of programs that have given young women and girls the chance to cherish the same experience she had in 2012.
“I started Jelani Girls Inc. because I believe that when we change the way we see Africa, we change the way we see ourselves,” Company told Essence Magazine in an exclusive interview.
“I want our girls to be proud of their African heritage, knowing that they are a part of the greater African diaspora. Instead of only telling them, I decided to show them,” she continued.
Jelani Girls, Inc. serves 14-18-year-old black females by giving the the opportunity to participate in a yearly Cultural Enrichment Program that goes on during the academic school year. During the summer months, Jelani Girls, Inc. offers a program that gives girls the opportunity to participate in a Cultural Immersion Trip.
In the past, Jelani Girls program participants have gotten the chance to travel to places like Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago. This year, Company plans for participants in her program to travel to Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, and Senegal.
“I am most excited about launching so many new African travel destinations for black women and girls in America to reconnect to the Motherland and be in service,” Company also told Essence. “This is the year we get to #ReimagineAfrica and recognize our Black Birthright!” she continued.