Category Archives: Global awareness

Gifts That Give Back Guide 2014, Creating Change Through Economic Opportunity

Gifts That Give Back Guide 2014, Creating Change Through Economic Opportunity

In October I attended the ONE Girls & Women AYA Summit at the Google Headquarters in DC. One of the many powerful panels we heard from was entitled Change Through Economic Opportunity, and both major fashion companies and small start-ups weighed in on how they are impacting the lives of women through economic empowerment.  There are so many fantastic places to purchase gifts holiday season, but why not use the power of your wallet to also help to lift a woman out of poverty when you purchase them. I feel like this makes the giving even sweeter. Not only will the recipient love what they get, but you both will know it had a positive impact on someone else’s life somewhere in this world. To me it feels like giving twice. Here are my top picks this year to use my purchasing power for social good from the AYA Summit panelists and beyond.

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Vase from the Heart of Haiti line

 

Gorgeous clutch from the Kate Spade On Purpose line

Gorgeous clutch from the Kate Spade On Purpose line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macy’s sells a line of goods called Heart of Haiti, designed to enrich and improve the lives of the artisans that create beautiful goods. Established after the massive earthquake in 2010, Heart of Haiti was created as a sustainable way to help repair Haiti’s fragile economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been a huge fan of Kate Spade since she began so I was thrilled when I met Sydney Price and heard her speak about the Kate Spade On Purpose line at the AYA Summit panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity.   Each piece in this collection is handcrafted in Rwanda creating sustainable economic opportunities for women and reshaping their community.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.54.08 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.00.42 AMI also met Jane Mosbacher Morris at the AYA Summit where she participated in the panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity. I love her story from policy to retail and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her a few days ago and get more insight into her path to founding To The Market. To The Market is a marketplace for survivor made goods, whether it is from war, disaster, or abuse, To The Market provides a market for the beautiful handcrafted goods that give women survivors a chance to support themselves and their families.

fashionable copyScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.03.40 AMI had the pleasure of visiting the FashionABLE factory in Ethiopia this past summer and have been writing about and wearing the gorgeous scarves made in Ethiopia for years. That made it such a thrill to finally meet founder Barrett Ward at the AYA Summit this past fall where he participated on the Change Through Economic Opportunity panel as well. They are now expanding operations to include products made in Kenya and a beautiful line of leather products, all while providing social service programs of health care, education in a trade, and assistance with child care for their artisans to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.

Photo by Heidi Reed

Photo by Heidi Reed

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.05.10 AMFor the person who has everything that you still want to let know you are thinking of them, there are many non profits where you can gift a gift in a loved ones name.  Often the non-profit will send them a certificate or note saying that you did so. This year I am supporting the non-profit Edesia, based in Rhode Island, that provides nutritional supplements for prevention and treatment of malnutrition in children. Edesia products are specifically created to treat babies and children during the critical first five years of life. If they do not get proper nutrition within those first five years, and most critically the first thousand days of life, they may be stunted and never reach their full potential. If you make a donation on the Edesia website in the notes section and list name of the person in whose name the donation is being made and their address, Edesia will send them a post card letting them know.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.38.48 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.27.50 AMOh, and how can I forget wine!? One Hope Wine where 1/2 of the proceeds goes to educating girls, which we know is key to global development. When a girl is educated she will tend to get married later, have fewer children, and contribute economically to her family.

 For more ideas on gifts that give back check out my past gift guides from 2012 (That includes Heifer International), 2013 and for foodies

Inspiring Women: Bringing Survivor Made Goods To The Market

Inspiring Women: Bringing Survivor Made Goods To The Market

Manna Prayer House-1One of the amazing women that I met last month at the AYA Summit was Jane Mosbacher Morris.  She had taken part in a panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity, and was impressive to me in her transition from working on human trafficking issues, and for the U.S. Department of State in counterterrorism, to founding a market place for survivor made goods. To The Market provides a path to economic empowerment for women survivors of abuse, conflict and disease. Fascinated with Jane’s path to founding To The Market I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her  about her inspirations, her journey and her goals.

Elizabeth Atalay: Personally on what level does this issue resonate with you?

Jane Mosbacher Morris:  Economic independence deeply resonates with me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because I greatly value my own economic independence and the basic choices that it affords me over the direction of my life.  When a person has some form of economic independence, it opens up a world of choice.  Alternatively, when you are completely dependent on someone or something else, you have very little leverage or ability to influence pretty fundamental things about your life—do you want to marry?  Do you want to get educated?  Where do you want to live?  What do you want to eat?

Working on the intersection of women and security for the first part of my career revealed how little control many of the most marginalized persons in our world have over their life.  It’s very hard to grant a person control over her life, however—a person usually has to take control of her life.

  The longer I worked on different women and security issues, the longer I believed that providing an opportunity for vulnerable populations to access economic independence is an extremely effective way for persons to claim (or in many cases, reclaim) control over their trajectory.

TO THE MARKET’s (TTM) model is to partner with existing organizations currently employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease.  These partners believe that providing the dignity of work is the best way to empower the survivor populations that they are trying to uplift.  TTM’s job is to help these partners succeed by creating additional distribution channels for their survivor-made products; amplifying the stories of survivors and their champions; and providing business services, like trend forecasting and basic mental health resources, to improve their production and management.

Elizabeth: How were you able to apply your experience from policy to a retail social enterprise?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: My time at the U.S. State Department focusing on policy influenced my perspective on how to best approach some of the social issues TO THE MARKET aims to address.  When you are working in a policy role, you’re often forced to examine a challenge on a regional or even global scale, allowing for patterns to emerge that are hard to identify when you are working on the ground.  Policies, whether created in a government, NGO, or private sector organization, are supposed to be a reflection of best practices and lessons learned.  Cutting my teeth in DC provided me access to information from colleagues from around the world, presenting feedback on what was and was not working well from a policy and programmatic standpoint.  One major takeaway from my time at the Department was that for a variety of reasons, governments tend to be pretty hamstrung when it comes to creating jobs, which is unfortunate, because an access to an earned income is probably one of the top things that people want.   Accordingly, I believed that I could support and cultivate economic independence for survivor populations more efficiently outside of the government and non-profit world.

Elizabeth: Where do you find the groups that you work with?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: When I founded TO THE MARKET, I was only aware of a handful of organizations employing survivors (two of which I had visited in Kolkata, India, sparking my idea! Thank you Sari Bari and Freeset!).  That handful quickly grew to our current list of over 150 organizations employing survivors.  One aspect that is very encouraging about working in the social enterprise space is that people are exceptionally collaborative.  When I would speak to someone working in Mumbai, for example, they would say, “you must meet my friend who is working with XYZ survivor population.”  These organizations are staffed by people that tend to follow the mantra that “a rising tide raises all ships.”

Elizabeth: Is there an area of the world that you are more focused on than another?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: TO THE MARKET doesn’t focus on a specific part of the world, but instead uses the criteria of whether an organization is employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease.  We have partners all over the globe, including the U.S., but the specific model of employing survivors to produce a product tends to be more common in East Africa and South/Southeast Asia.  The development of these “nodes” can probably be attributed to a few things.  For one, organizations tend to build off of existing handicraft capacities, like beading, sewing, or weaving.  Another likely reason that this model works well in these parts of the world is that the economics tend to work—you can pay a living wage and still price the products competitively in a U.S. market.  Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that the faith-based community has had on the development of these social enterprises.  A notable number of these organizations have been started after a particularly impactful mission or volunteer trip.

Elizabeth: How closely will you be able to follow the progress of the artisans and their journeys toward financial sustainability?

Jane Mosbacher Morris: We are extremely fortunate in that we have a wonderful working relationship with our partners.  I tend to have a good idea of what is going on within these organizations, including whether their sales are healthy enough to continue to employ their survivor artisans.  One of our partners is currently only employing one woman, while another is able to provide steady work to hundreds of women.  Expansion is not always the best decision for these organizations if it means that they are putting the business at risk or they aren’t able to monitor the survivors’ mental, physical, spiritual, and financial health as closely. It’s a tricky balance!

You can do your part by shopping at To The Market this holiday season and beyond for beautiful gifts that give back.

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To #EndEbola The World Needs To Be #UnitedAgainstEbola

To #EndEbola The World Needs To Be #UnitedAgainstEbola
Still frame from the ONE Campaign video Ebola: Waiting

Still frame from the ONE Campaign video Ebola: Waiting

One of the cruelties of Ebola is that is goes against the very core of our human nature, the instinct to care for others. Like the NPR Story about the infant, still young enough to nurse, left in a box at the clinic where her mother had just died from Ebola. The baby had tested negative so far, so of course the group of nurses took turns caring for the baby. How could you not?  Ultimately the baby became sick and died, as did most of the caregivers, the nurses.

Tragic stories like this have been playing out in West Africa for far to long. Ebola is stoppable. We have seen it done. We need to get it done. Nigeria serves as a great example where a swift local response with in place medical, and vaccine infrastructure helped to halt the spread. Due to a concerted effort and funding to eradicate Polio from the region, Nigeria already had the necessary health care infrastructure to be able to contain and manage the Ebola outbreak when it hit. According to Dr. Chris Elias,  president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, previously done modeling studies based on experience with where and how Polio spread in the country, risk areas for Ebola were readily identifiable. Meanwhile countries with weak  health care systems were vulnerable to the outbreak.  Frontline healthcare workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have been tirelessly devoting themselves to the crisis from the beginning, but thousands of lives could have been saved if the world responded more quickly with the necessary funds and medical resources critical to reduce the spread.

“every day we continue to wait – for funding to reach the ground, for nurses and doctors to be deployed, for the shattered medical services to be rebuilt – more people die.”- ONECampaign

What we know is that though it’s lethal, the Ebola virus is relatively short-lived as viruses go, and transmittable only through contact with infected bodily fluids.  This means that although it can be spread quickly, once contained, the number of new infections come down quickly as well. Liberia has been the hardest hit country with an estimated 3,000 deaths from the disease, but according to the World Health Organization we are beginning to see the number of cases there decline.  Girls and women have been disproportionately impacted since traditionally they are the caretakers in their communities as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf explained via video feed to attendees of the ONE Girls and Women AYA Summit several weeks ago.   According to a story in the Associated Press by Jonathan Paye-Layleh on ABC news  today she has set a goal of Liberia being Ebola free by December 25th by doubling their efforts.

World leaders need to commit the resources to get it done. Our best chance to #EndEbola is if the world is #UnitedAgainsEbola. Two organizations working towards that very goal released videos last week to highlight this point.

ONE Campaign encourages us to take action by putting pressure on our government leaders to do so by signing this petition.

You can Find out here if the countries that have made promises to Ebola have delivered to help #ENDEBOLA.

Africa Responds  focuses on how African countries are #UnitedAgainstEbola and how local organizations have been working on the ground since the beginning of the crisis to get help to those who need it.

It is our human nature to care for others, and you can do just that through donations to help get the resources where they need to go, or by using  your voice and signing the petition to let government leaders know you care. What the world can not afford to do is sit by any longer and do nothing. We can #EndEbola when we become #UnitedAgainsEbola. Let’s get it done!

During UN General Assembly week in September I attended a roundtable on the Ebola crisis with ONE Campaign, The Gates Foundation, and Save The Children. In October at the One Girls and Women AYA Summit a discussion with a panel of experts  on Ebola including a physician from the front lines in Liberia accompanied the video address by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Partners With Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Partners With Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions

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Two Rhode Island companies, founded and run by women, have come together this month to double the opportunity for positive impact.

Ava Anderson and Edesia were both boldly founded in Rhode Island in 2009, when the state was in the midst of the great recession that had enveloped the entire country. Both were founded by women on a mission to bring about change, and as a credit to the power of storytelling in the media, both were inspired by a news story they saw on TV.  For Navyn it was Anderson Cooper reporting on a “miracle” treatment for malnutrition called Plumpy’Nut .  For Ava it was a program about the toxins found in everyday cosmetic products that were dangerous to women’s health.

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Ava Anderson

Unable to find any products on the market truly toxin free Ava set about creating her own line of safe non-toxic beauty, and home care products.

Navyn Salem

Navyn Salem

By establishing the non-profit Edesia in 2009 and producing Plumpy’Nut in her home state, Navyn both provided local jobs, and global nutrition solutions all at once.

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Both companies have grown exponentially since they launched five years ago.

For the month of November each order of Ava Anderson products will provide a packet of Plumpy’Nut to a child in need.

Typically within 7-week course of Plumpy’Nut a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition can be brought back to a healthy weight. Proper nutrition is especially critical in small children whose brains and bodies are growing rapidly, and lack of nutrition can cause a condition called stunting from which they will never reach their full cognitive potential.

This partnership offers a great opportunity to purchase safe, toxin free products for yourself and your loved ones, while knowing that at the same time you will also be contributing towards the treatment of a child’s health. Plus for each order made through this link using the party ID # 4418 4 you will be entered to win a $25.00 Ava Anderson gift certificate! You can help us to #NourishTheFuture with these gifts that give back this month.

Please feel free to share this post and inspire others to shop Ava in November for maximum impact.

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The AYA Summit With ONE Girls & Women

The AYA Summit With ONE Girls & Women

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This week at the Washington D.C. Google headquarters I will be attending ONE’s 2014 AYA Summit .  Co-hosted by ONE Girls & Women and Google the AYA Summit is an exciting opportunity to meet some of the amazing speakers and attendees, as well as catch up with friends and colleagues.  It is always inspiring to be in an environment surrounded by change-makers approaching the world we live in with optimistic problem solving and ideas.

 The word AYA is an African Adinkra symbol from Ghana for fern that represents endurance, resourcefulness and growth. A beautiful symbol for the AYA Summit that will highlight the progress and challenges that girls and women face in developing countries. In the fight to eliminate extreme poverty improving the lives of girls and women is essential.

When girls and women are given the necessary education and tools, they can be change-makers within their families and communities. Through a series of talks, panels, visuals, and demonstrations, the summit will explore what it means to be born female in Africa, and what we, working together with our African partners, can do to make sure that all girls and women reach their potential. The summit will bring together leaders from the non-profit, government, private sector and celebrity arenas.- ONE Girls & Women Read the rest of this entry