The minute you step into the same room as Flaviana Matata you can instantly feel her positivity, her drive, and her passion. You cannot help but want to know more, ask more, about what she’s working on and how she’s making a difference in the world.

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On Tuesday, February 12th at the Jimmy at the James, in partnership with Burnett New York & Sherry Lehmann Wine & Spirits, the Flaviana Matata Foundation celebrated its Beauty of Giving event sponsored by American Express.

The event, which featured delicious bites, great drinks, and heartfelt speeches from various sponsors, friends, and Flaviana herself, was a great way to help raise awareness and funds for the foundation.

I had a chance to chat with Flaviana about how she got started, the foundation and more.

What inspired you to create the Flaviana Matata Foundation?

I founded the Flaviana Matata Foundation (FMF) because of my passion and deep commitment to using education as a tool to transform the lives of girls in Tanzania.  FMF is making sure that girls and young women have the resources and opportunities they need to complete their education, find employment, and/or start their own businesses – ultimately helping them to fulfill their dreams. FMF has grown from initially only providing scholarships to pay for school fees, to supporting the many needs of girls so that they can feel safe throughout their entire education and have the skills and support they need to get a job or start a business.

 What are some of your long term and short-term goals for the foundation?

We have ambitious goals and are committed to having a greater impact. The next phase of FMF will be focused on working to:

    • Reach 5,500 children by 2021 which will include providing school supplies to an additional 1000 children, scholarships to 20 more girls, and refurbishing 1 additional school as needed.
    • Build 10 Houses for teachers at our school
    • Ensure that the 15 girls who are now in their first year of college graduate with honors and help them to get a great job/start their own businesses
    • Formalize partnerships with organizations to establish “Girls Clubs” at schools.
    • Formalize structured mentorship program for all girls receiving FMF scholarships. 
    • Fundraise so that we can have an even greater impact.

What has been the most rewarding experience thus far with the foundation?

Since 2012, FMF has reached over 4,500 students.  This has included providing students with needed school supplies as well as renovating and refurbishing school infrastructure. FMF has also been able to provide 15 girls with full scholarships to stay in school and, the first class of girls graduated from high school in June 2018 and are now in college/university.FMF is creating a world where girls can stay in school and grow up to become leaders who are confident, economically independent, and supportive of their communities. This has all been incredibly inspiring – to see the transformative impact that FMF is having on the individual lives of so many girls and students.

What was the most rewarding piece of knowledge you learned in school?

School taught me the value of education and that it is the one thing that no one can take away.  I studied engineering and chose a career in modeling, but the analytical skills that I learned during my time help me with my philanthropy and with LAVY – the beauty line I started 3 years ago.  I feel that no matter what you decide to do, your education can give you the platform and exposure you need to reach your goals.  I feel so lucky that my family felt it was important for me to stay in school.  Where I am from, families who are economically poor often prioritize boys staying in school over girls because they cannot afford for all of their children to stay in school.  My father was adamant that all of his children stay in school and get an education, I am incredibly grateful for that.

What other projects are you working on right now?

Right now, I am focusing on expanding LAVY beyond East Africa. My dream is for LAVY products to be available globally. I am focusing on expanding our products to West and Southern Africa as well as to the United States.  In addition to being a model and philanthropist, I am really passionate about the business side of my work.  I want to give women in Tanzania the training and seed-funding they need to start their own beauty businesses and grow the industry in my country, and eventually around the entire African continent.

For more information on the Flaviana Matata foundation please visit and be sure to donate here!

& keep up to date with Flaviana by following her at @FlavianaMatata

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