While still a high school kid, Kohl Crecelius never thought about that a small hobby could eventually make a big difference on many others’ lives.

Crecelius is the CEO and co-founder of the Krochet Kids International (KKI), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering people to rise above poverty. When he was in high school, he loved sports on the mountain, like surfing, and was passionate about crocheting unique headwear for himself. Later on, to fund high school dances, he started his crochet business, a small crocheted hat company.

During summer breaks, Crecelius volunteered in various developing nations and saw people tired of living solely on the operating bodies for their every need. “They wanted to work and provide for their own families,” he said.

Not until that moment did he have an idea of helping these people break the cycle of poverty by teaching them crocheting. Crecelius believes high-quality, handmade products can serve as a vehicle for social change.

“The simplicity of crocheting is its most profound quality,” Crecelius said. “With hook and yarn people could make amazing products.Being paid a fair wage to do so would allow for them, for the first time, to provide for their families and begin planning for the future. By teaching these people to crochet, we would be empowering them to rise above poverty.”

Along with some close friends, Crecelius established the KKI in 2008 and began working with women in impoverished communities in Northern Uganda and Peru. By teaching those women, most are mothers and heads of households, how to crochet products, this organization has created an innovative approach to help the poor through job creation and education.

“Our goal is to poverty alleviation,” Crecelius said. “We are trying to empower women and families living in poverty to be in charge of the responsibilities to break that circle of poverty for them and forever.”

Currently, over150 people in Uganda and Peru are working and receiving education. The collaboration of KKI staff and beneficiaries around the world has created a sustainable cycle of employment and empowerment.

Crecelius noted the biggest difference between the KKI and other businesses with missions to provide aid to developing countries.Instead of providing one thing such as water, clothing or education and trying to help a broad range of people, KKI focuses on individuals, helps them with the skills they will need to address their circumstances and assists them to make a difference.

“We try to leverage the tools of business to launch the entrepreneurship and to make the best impact on people,” Crecelius said.

Liying Qian 

Sources: KTLA, Kochet Kids International
Photo: Onboard Mag

Mama Hope: Mamas without Borders
Stephanie Moore, better known as Mama Hope, was the birth mother of Nyla Rodgers and the spiritual mother of many others. In 2006 when Mama Hope died of cancer, Nyla went to Africa to find the man her mother had sponsored. When Nyla traveled to Kenya she found that her mother had helped “hundreds of others.” Inspired by her mother’s work and impact Nyla founded the Mama Hope advocacy and activism group.

Made up of a group of 11 dedicated activists, Mama Hope works in 4 countries: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Since their founding, they have completed 32 projects impacting over 100,000 people. Their projects “have addressed critical issues in agriculture and food security, water, health, education, shelter, women’s empowerment and the environment.”

Their approach to development involves three phases: “Listen to local communities”; “Connect funds through awareness”; and, “Enable sustainable projects.” They call this the Connected Development model. This model relies on identifying needs and solutions by first speaking with communities. Unlike a top-down approach, the community already has a self-identified stake in making the solution a reality.

Once the project is identified, Mama Hope pairs US donors with African community organizations and much-needed projects through the foundation’s framework. Donors include individuals, foundations, and corporations. Projects are promoted via social media to help build momentum. In the final stage, “Enable sustainable projects” rely entirely on local labor and materials. Each project is designed to create jobs and have a minimal environmental impact. Reliance on local knowledge, material and labor allows projects to be accomplished in an efficient and sustainable way. Because community members have ownership of the projects, the community members become stakeholders in the success of each project.

True to the roots of Mama Hope, the “Stop the Pity Movement” stresses that the world should be seen through “hope and connection.” Hope and connection are believed to be the foundations of making sustainable change—by seeing the potential and resilience of the human spirit. African women in one of the project villages were asked to make a video about themselves. Did they make a video about their burdens such as poverty or sadness? No. They made a video about something they love: Netball. They experience poverty and sadness in ways most Americans will never know, but they are more than their poverty and sadness. They are resilient humans that live and love and laugh as well as carry their heavy burdens. Mama Hope not only gives them hope, but it also gives everyone who is working towards a better world hope by allowing us to see that good work and measurable success is being achieved.

Katherine Zobre

Source: Mama Hope

Indian TREAD Program Empowers WomenThe government of India introduced the Trade Related Entrepreneurship and Assistance Development (TREAD) plan to help women in rural areas of the country. The intent is for greater economic empowerment of such women through financing, training, information and counseling activities, all related to the trade of products and services within the marketplace.

Their research has shown that one of the main barriers for supporting women out of poverty is that distribution and access to credit are next to impossible without an intermediary. So the TREAD plan will work with community NGOs to make sure funds are actually placed in the hands of women. Then, additional infrastructure will be provided for counseling, training, and assistance in selling goods in the market.

Obviously, impoverished women do not have the collateral needed to secure a loan through traditional lending institutions, so this project, with the support of the government, takes down that barrier. Government grants will fund 30% of a project within TREAD, and the rest will be loaned from banks that are participating.

Additionally, NGOs can receive state government grants for undertaking activities aimed at the empowerment of women, such as field surveys, research studies, evaluation studies, designing of training modules, and more. TREAD is a holistic approach to development, identifying what is needed, what works, using real-world solutions to implement change, offering support, and bringing together various institutions to work together.

– Mary Purcell

Source: DCMSME
Photo: ecouterre