By Amelia Santaniello

By Amelia Santaniello, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kate Herzog is a native of Ghana who didn’t learn to read until she was 11. Now she’s paying it forward, and running a worldwide business out of this tiny office at the University of St. Thomas.

“Our mission is to alleviate poverty,” she said. “That is the goal.”

Her brand is called House of Talents, and her talent is identifying the right African artisans to make beautiful products, and trust with her start-up money.

“It’s the ones that are obsessed with getting out of poverty are the ones I work with,” she said, “because I advance them the money. I also have to make sure they cover my back, because I’m giving money. It’s all based on trust.”

Her office is full of baskets, jewelry, even soaps and each one has its own story.

House of Talents grew out of a St. Thomas MBA project, and Kate gets help from student interns, including Lance DeGroot, who nominated her, but she couldn’t get traditional financing, because she has such a non-traditional business.

“I’m dealing with people who are truly poor, and they have no collateral,” she said, “so I wasn’t going to get any loans.”

So, Herzog invested her own money, clearing out her savings and most of her 401(k). Now, her products are in fancy stores, and she’s using the proceeds to send African kids to school and buy books for their libraries.

“I sleep very well,” she said. “I’m broke and happy.”

Herzog’s inspiration is the American man who sent her the books that helped her learn to read when she was only 11. That’s why she’s donating books to build libraries in Africa.

You can see and buy Herzog’s products at

You can also find them at:
Dichotomy in Wayzata
JV & Co. in Gaviidae
Francis King
Pangea in Hudson, Wis. (bicycle baskets)


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