Local ArtistsIn the fight to end global poverty, people often think of just donating money and food to people in the developing world. While this is helpful, many other companies see the benefit in creating opportunities for people in impoverished communities throughout the world to earn a sustainable income that allows them to provide for their families and have something to look forward to. These are five companies that give local artists work and help impoverished communities with every purchase.

Pura Vida bracelets
Pura Vida is a bracelet company created by Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman in 2010 during a college graduation trip to Costa Rica. The two bought bracelets from bracelet makers Juan and Joaquin, who were living in poverty and selling bracelets to survive. Paul and Griffin decided to take 400 of Juan and Joaquin’s bracelets back home and they sold quickly, so they decided to partner with Juan and Joaquin to create Pura Vida. The company has since grown, providing full-time jobs for over 150 artisans around the world. The company has partnered with over 190 different charities and has raised $1,500,000.

Serengetee is a company that specializes in t-shirts with bold pockets made from fabrics from artisans in over 25 countries, which supports “artisans, their families and ancient fabric-making traditions.” The company also donates 10 percent of their profits to a range of grassroots causes.

Visible clothing
Visible is a clothing company that makes every step of the clothes-making process transparent, allowing customers to know exactly who made their clothes and know that they are treated fairly. The workers they hire are all from the developing world, because the company feels that since 98 percent of clothes in the United States are outsourced to these countries anyway, having their company work with these people but actually treat them fairly is a good way to help end poverty.

Krochet Kids
Krochet Kids was founded by three men who as teenagers liked to crochet their own hats for ski trips, and eventually began selling them at school. During college, one of the men traveled to Uganda and realized that teaching people in impoverished countries to crochet would allow them to sustain themselves and their families. They then traveled to Uganda to educate women on how to crochet. Since becoming a nonprofit in January 2008, Krochet Kids has employed over 150 people in Uganda and Peru, allowing them to work, get an education and receive mentorship.

Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages sells a variety of products, including pottery, baskets, ornaments, jewelry and clothing, created by people in communities throughout the developing world. Ten Thousand Villages is dedicated to providing good working conditions, long-term partnerships, fair pay, sustainability, and empowerment to their workers. Since being founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages’ employees have earned $140 million in sustainable income when they would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

By shopping with one of these companies, you can know that your money is going toward the fight to end global poverty while supporting local artists.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

nonprofit organizations
In the modern world, there are a multitude of companies and organizations dedicated to certain causes, markets and world regions. Companies can be categorized under two main types: for-profit and nonprofit. For-profit companies are focused on making money, while nonprofit organizations are focused on spending money.

Typically, for-profit organizations direct their efforts to making a profit for their officers, members or directors. If they are a publicly-traded company, then the executives are responsible for turning a profit for the shareholders. For-profit organizations are usually required by law to pay both federal and state taxes.

Examples of for-profit companies and organizations include Apple, PepsiCo and Google. These companies make consumer electronics, bottled beverages and specialize in online search engines. All of these companies are publicly traded corporations and earn money for their stockholders and directors.

For-profit corporations are prevalent in people’s lives. Many for-profit companies heavily advertise their products which are used by people all over the world. However, despite having less market exposure and recognition, nonprofit organizations are also extremely important.

A nonprofit organization is defined as a “a group organized for purposes other than generating profit and in which no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers.”

Instead of exerting efforts to make money for themselves and their stockholders, nonprofit organizations are focused on spending money to help a particular group or cause.

An example of a nonprofit organization is a church. Churches typically are financed through donations and spend their money on spreading their religion or contributing to causes that could positively impact people’s lives.

The World Food Programme and Planned Parenthood are other examples. Planned Parenthood dedicates its funds to better women’s health through education and to advocate for public policies that are aligned with its mission. The World Food Programme, which is partially funded by the United Nations, dedicates its budget to the procurement of food for communities that have been plagued by disaster.

Typically, nonprofit organizations are not traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Instead of being responsible for responding to those who own the company, they elect to distribute the money to certain causes.

Not all nonprofits are required to pay taxes. Those that apply and are approved to be registered as a “501-c organization” are not required by law to pay taxes.

– Erin Logan

Sources: CNN, Encyclopedia, Society for Nonprofits, Cornell, IRS, Planned Parenthood
Photo: UCONN

“Buy a Belt–Feed a Family.”  That is the motto of Mission Belt, a company whose co-founder appeared on the critically acclaimed show Shark Tank and scored a deal with fashion mogul Daymond John.

With the simple idea of designing a belt with no holes, emerged a company designed to fight global hunger and poverty. The strategy? Micro-lending.

The company was named Mission Belt because it had one mission–to help people break out of the cycle of poverty.  The company policy is to donate 100 percent of one dollar from every Mission Belt sold. According to company statistics, the dollar they donate often represents 20 percent or more of their profit. They work with a “non-profit, peer-to-peer ‘micro-lending’ organization” called Kiva, which distributes money in the form of $25 micro loans to people in the developing world.

One dollar goes a long way in this case, because when the borrowers repay their loans, those funds can be lent out over and over.

So far, Mission Belt Co. has made 1,492 individual loans, with the majority going to the agricultural sector.  According to the Creative Director of the company, they chose the agricultural sector (primarily targeted towards helping women) so that they can directly help people feed themselves and their families.

“We like to think of it as corporate responsibility to give something back. We feel strongly about the work we do, and the contributions to this micro-loans have meant the world to so many people around the world.”

Nate Holzapfel, co-founder of Mission Belt Co., is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post online and recently wrote an article about his thoughts on the secret to life. He says that helping others is what has been the secret to his success personally, financially and emotionally. “Realization of ourselves and our humanity is the key to empathy, which is essential if you want to truly be happy.”

It is not uncommon to see U.S. companies engaging in corporate giving on a large scale. In a 2011 survey carried out by The Chronicle of Philanthropy magazine, data revealed that in 2010, total cash donations by 180 of the nation’s largest companies were $4.9 billion.

Among the top companies listed was the supermarket Kroger, which created a loyalty program where 2-5 percent of a shopper’s bill would be donated to a community group of the shopper’s choice. Wal-Mart Stores also topped the list, with an announcement of a $2 billion five-year strategy to fight hunger.

Goldman Sachs was also recognized, despite criticism remaining surrounding its generosity in light of the liquidity crisis. It was among the companies who donated the most cash in 2010, and is also known for a project called “10,000 Women,” a five-year investment which provides female entrepreneurs in the developing world with a business and management education.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: Sharktanksuccess, Mission Belt, Huffington Post, Forbes, Goldmansachs
Photo: Twisted Sifter