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reduce_global_poverty

Today, many socially conscious companies work to reduce global poverty. They help the poor either by donating directly to charities or by providing jobs and fair wages for those in need. Many of these organizations make jewelry. Here are 10 companies that sell jewelry products in order to help the global poor:

1. Article 22 — Article 22 sells jewelry made by bombs, plane parts or other materials left over from the Vietnam War. Their first collection, Peacebomb, uses Vietnam War Era bombs and is crafted by Laotian Artisans. Article 22 helps the poor by providing jobs to Laotian Artisans who may have been ignored or forgotten. Also, each Peacebomb item funds the demining of land that is littered by bombs.

2. 31 Bits — The 31 Bits mission statement is “using fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty.” They work with women in Uganda who earn an income from the jewelry they create. The women also receive counseling, finance training, health education and business mentorships. Each purchase from 31 Bits funds their work in Uganda.

3. Half United — The purchase of any Half United product gives seven meals to children in need in the United States, Fiji, Cambodia and Madagascar.

4. Indego Africa — Indego Africa works with women in Rwanda in order to help them flourish as independent businesswomen. They partner with female artisans and sell their products in their shop. One hundred percent of their profits go toward job skills training programs for their artisans in business management, technology, entrepreneurship and English and Kinyarwanda literacy.

5. Kurandza — Kurandza works with HIV positive women in Mozambique. Many of these women do not have the money necessary for transportation to the hospital and are therefore not able to obtain the medicine that they need. Kurandza works with these women, and the proceeds from the skirts and jewelry that they make goes toward transportation to the hospital and other household items, such as schoolbooks for their children.

6. Purpose — Purpose is a fashion jewelry brand launched by International Sanctuary. International Sanctuary was an organization found in 2007 that works to help those who escaped sex trafficking, in both Mumbai, India and Orange County, California. Survivors are placed in mentoring programs and given an education, medical and dental care, scholarships and microloans. In 2014, International Sanctuary founded Purpose as a way to give survivors employment, financial stability and a brighter future.

7. The Starfish Project — The Starfish Project was founded in 2006 in order to help exploited women in China. It works to give them alternative employment and holistic care services, and provides them with counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education grants, healthcare access and housing in a women’s shelter. The Starfish Project wants to raise awareness about violence against women and its goal is to restore hope for each woman that enters its doors.

8. The Purple Buddha Project — Like Article-22, the Purple Buddha Project works to help demining. As they say, more tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia than on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. The Purple Buddha Project uses remains of weapons in Cambodia in order to make jewelry, providing jobs to Cambodian artisans. The purchase of each piece goes toward demining of land in Cambodia or Laos. Many of the Purple Buddha Project bracelets contain positive messages.

9. Mujus — Mujus works to give back to Peru. They pair fair wages and provide health insurance to Mujus artisans in Peru in order to help provide social change to communities around Lima. (Mujus also works with the ALS association in the United States, and has a special collection designed to help raise money for those with Lou Gehrig’s disease).

10. Colorful Minds — While Colorful Minds does not sell specific jewelry pieces, they do sell jewelry boxes and pouches (which you can use to keep all the jewelry you purchased while helping the global poor). Colorful Minds works with vocational centers in India that serve those living with disabilities. They market the products that are made at the vocational centers in order to help those with disabilities to integrate into society, increase self-esteem and motivate them to use their creativity. They also execute a grant program which provides necessary items, such as prosthetics or supplies, to vocational centers.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: Article 22, Busy Mommy, 31 Bits, Half United, Indego Africa, Kurandza, Purpose Jewelry, Starfish Project, The Purple Buddha Project, Mujus, Colorful Minds
Photo: The Big Piece of Cake

us_foreign_aid

In 2012, the United States provided nearly $12 billion in official development assistance (“ODA”) to African nations. The ODA is allocated to education, health, infrastructure and economic development programs in recipient countries. Currently, the United States allocates foreign aid to 47 African nations and USAID operates 27 missions on the continent.

US Foreign aid to Africa began in the 1960s as many African nations gained independence and the United States sought strategic alliances to counter the influence of the Soviet Union. With the exception of disaster and famine relief, most foreign aid to Africa began to decrease with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the 2000s, President Bush more than tripled aid to Africa by establishing programs such as the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund as well as the Global HIV/AIDS Initiative.

Though foreign aid programs are designed to assist recipient nations with development, they also benefit the United States in a number of ways.

First, these programs help build strategic alliances and foster support for democratic transitions. It also stimulates Africa’s growth and development, which provides opportunities for increased trade and direct investment in the continent’s emerging markets.

But for all the benefits, foreign aid to Africa has no shortage of detractors. Many critics point out that much of the money allocated to Africa never reaches the people who most need the assistance. “Eighty percent of U.S. aid to Africa is spent right here in America — on American contractors, American suppliers, and so forth,” said George Ayittey, president of the Free Africa Foundation.

In more corrupt nations, politicians and civic leaders are often charged with misappropriating funds designated for the people. Others critics claim that foreign aid to Africa simply does not work—after 50 years of assistance, Africa still confronts the same issues.

But even critics would have to agree on one crucial point: foreign aid is an integral part of U.S. foreign policy. In Africa, aid programs support a large framework of social and economic assistance for developing nations.

Critics are correct that American companies and corrupt politicians siphon a large portion of foreign aid. But aid to Africa has also done much to improve infrastructure, bolster economic development and improve health care conditions for millions of people on the continent.

– Danial Bonasso
Sources: Foreign Policy Initiative, Washington Post, NPR, One.org
Photo: James Bovard