On a normal day in rural Kenya, women in this poverty-stricken nation seek to better their lives. The solution they’ve discovered is surprisingly simple; these women make “Rafiki Bracelets.” These bracelets are sold in developed nations, and the proceeds help rural villages in Kenya.
The word “Rafiki”—probably best known from the character Disney’s The Lion King—is Swahili for “friend.”
Rafiki bracelets are a part of the Me to We program, a social enterprise system that allows impoverished individuals to make certain goods (in this case bracelets). In turn, Me to We makes a donation to certain life-changing initiatives, like clean water or education.
The Me to We program makes donations to six different programs: health, food, opportunity, education, freedom and water. Some initiatives are fairly straightforward, like providing access to primary education, clean water, and clean food. Others, however, are not. The “opportunity” initiative helps women in impoverished nations with financial planning. The “freedom” initiative allows American students to help combat poverty.
Cinemark movie theaters sell Rafiki bracelets in their lobbies and even advertise the bracelets with an infomercial before the screening of films. This is a great way for this social enterprise to reach a larger audience. By advertising before feature films, the Me to We program can reach those who otherwise may never hear of their programs.
Additionally, celebrities like Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell wear Rafiki bracelets as a way to raise awareness. Mitchell has been quoted as saying, “I’m almost never without a Rafiki around my wrist. It looks cool, reminds me to live my life with a sense of gratitude, and is a symbol of the power we all have in our wallets to change the world.”
Rafiki bracelets are a great way for social enterprises to educate the public on global poverty. Due to their efforts, the plight of the world’s extreme poor reaches the world’s developed nations.
– Raymond Terry