By Brecken Branstrator
Realizing the immediate need for a marketplace for Zambian miners without access to international buyers during the pandemic, AGEC founder Monica Gichuhi partnered with The Responsible Jewelry Transformative, the Federation of Small Scale Mining Associations of Zambia, The Association of Zambian Women in Mining and The Nomad Jeweler on a digital project called Virtu Gem.
It aims to help ASM miners sell their rough gemstones as well as raise money to give back to the mining communities.
Through it, buyers are purchasing gemstones directly from the federation, which sources stones from its vetted miner members. The group behind the marketplace also has local cutter partners so buyers can choose to get their gemstones cut in country.
Twenty percent of the proceeds from stones sold on Virtu Gem go back to mining communities for food drives and purchasing protective gear.