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Jewelry Brands That Give BackEvery day, people around the globe wear jewelry to either symbolize a personal significance or to complete any outfit. Whether it is worn as an accessory or to make a statement, jewelry has been around for centuries. There are thousands of jewelry brands in the world, but only a small fraction of them give back to people in need. This article will focus on five jewelry brands that give back to exploited women and children in need.

5 Jewelry Brands That Give Back

  1. Half United– Siblings, Christian and Carmin Black founded Half United back in 2009 as a way to merge their passion for fashion and philanthropy. Using recycled bullet castings, Half United’s unique jewelry designs empower consumers to fight against hunger. Each product purchased creates seven meals for a child in need. At the end of each month, Half United divides the number of meals raised equally between their local and global partners. One of their global partners is Elevating Ministries, which feeds more than 5,000 students a day. In the past eight years, Half United has supplied over 800,000 meals for children in need.
  2. AccountABLE- After witnessing the hardships Ethiopian women endured in extreme poverty, Barrett Ward was on a mission to end generational poverty when he created AccountABLE. The organization presented women with an alternative opportunity that would provide them with a living while empowering them out of poverty. Women in Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and the U.S. create items from handmade jewelry to footwear. AccountABLE is one of the few companies that have published their wages. By making their worker’s wages public, AccountABLE is hoping other companies will do the same and realize the difference between minimum wage and a living wage.
  3. Akola – Akola is a local Ugandan dialect that translates to “she works”. Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by women across East Africa and the U.S. Akola employs women who care for an average of 10 dependents. Through their nonprofit partners, Akola Project and Akola Academy, the organization creates jobs for women in unstable situations in both East Africa and the U.S. They create a community to assist, teach and empower women to become self-sufficient and free from poverty. Akola is not only helping women but also the environment through upcycling Karatasi beads, horn and natural raffia.
  4. PURPOSE Jewelry- For the past 11 years, PURPOSE Jewelry has been helping and employing young women around the world who have been rescued from human trafficking. Every stage of production involves one of these women and enables them to earn a living, learn valuable skills and gain a sense of security. Each handcrafted piece of jewelry includes the artisan’s signature, forever connecting her story of hope to the consumer. With each purchase, a portion of the proceeds goes toward their nonprofit, International Sanctuary. International Sanctuary provides women with education, health care and counseling. In the past year, they have provided over 9,600 hours of professional training and nearly 3,800 hours of education and tutoring.
  5. Starfish Project- The Starfish Project provides care for exploited women in Asia through its social enterprise of handcrafting jewelry and Holistic Care Programs. The Holistic Care Programs provide women with career training, healthcare, counseling, safety and education grants for children. Each month, the Starfish Project serves over 400 women by making weekly visits to local brothels. These visits provide women with medical services, education and even birthday celebrations. Nearly 150 women have been employed by the Starfish Project with thousands more participating in their Community Outreach Services. One hundred percent of the proceeds are reinvested into the Starfish Project’s mission of restoring hope to women and girls.

These five jewelry brands that give back are more than just selling accessories, they are helping those in need. These five jewelry brands give women back their freedom and give children back their childhood.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

31 bitsCurrently, 80 percent of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Needless to say, this is a time where the global poverty rate, although at the lowest it has ever been, is still in desperate need of improvement. The estimated unemployment rate as of 2017 was 7.9 percent, a 0.4 percent increase from 2016.

Fortunately, there are organizations and companies such as 31 Bits that are striving to combat the current unemployment dilemma that is actively contributing to global poverty. Starting its journey selling jewelry at local school events and craft fairs, nearly a decade later, 31 Bits is a thriving company composed of strong women whose success has been driven by their desire to help struggling and poor artisans in providing them with dignified job opportunities all throughout the world.

How 31 Bits Came to Be

The young women who started 31 Bits were college students by day while learning about marketing and international development at night. They had no background in business whatsoever; however, they did not allow this obstacle to hinder them. After returning from a life-changing trip to Uganda in college, International Director and Founder Kallie Dovel met many women, most who were single moms without jobs or an education that were the same age as herself.

Although they lacked an education, Kallie was instantly drawn to their exceptional skills and resourcefulness; they were making jewelry out of old posters. Bringing a box of jewelry back home, she was able to sell all that she had to her friends with ease.

Kallie was hit with the realization that with the skills that these women possessed, they needed a market – this is how 31 Bits has come to flourish. Producing products that are thoughtfully designed and ethically made, the mission statement of 31 Bits is, “We use fashion and design to drive positive change in the world by providing artisans with dignified opportunities and inspiring customers to live meaningful lives.”

How 31 Bits is Carrying Out its Mission

Actively defying cruel sweatshops where the worker is not paid fairly and is treated poorly, 31 Bits puts the treatment of its artisans at the forefront. The workshops contain quality materials and the necessary protective supplies, and the organization’s goal is to ensure that each artisan is able to make a sustainable monthly salary so that they are able to provide for their families.

31 Bits sells jewelry, bags, home décor, ceramics, textiles and more. Its brass jewelry is crafted by hand in Bali and its beads are also handmade in Uganda. Its website explains the religious reasoning behind the name 31 Bits, saying, “We called the company 31 Bits because Proverbs 31 describes a diligent woman providing and caring for her family using her gifts and talents. Oh, and the ‘bits’ comes from our original and bestselling jewelry that uses beads made out of ‘bits’ of paper!”

Combating Poverty and Assisting Artists

Because 31 Bits recognizes that there are many countries that suffer from corruption and a poor infrastructure which, as a result, limits many from access to the global market, it works to actively decrease the poverty rate for these countries while sustaining a family atmosphere and preserving tradition. “We’ve been able to take age-old practices and give them a modern twist,” the company explains. “Through 31 Bits, [artisans] now have a place to sell their meaningful work and tell stories of their heritage.”

Artisans who work with 31 Bits also receive health care and treatment, counseling, financial education and more. 31 Bits is not only combating the vast amount of global poverty that millions are attempting to grapple with, it is also promoting and encouraging these artisans to pursue their dreams.

– Angelina Gillispie
Photo: Flickr

luxury_goods
As the second largest luxury goods company in the world, Richemont always gives us an impression of noble and unreachable. However, this luxury group is generated from impoverished land in Africa.

Generated from a cigarette company in South Africa, Richemont successfully shows us the transition from agricultural business based on impoverished areas into a worldwide-leading luxury consumer goods sector. Through Richemont, we could see the vast potential commercial opportunities in Africa.

Born and raised in the small town of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, Anton Rupert started manufacturing cigarettes from his garage with a £10 investment in the 1940s. Soon, he established the Rembrandt group and relied on his tobacco business in South Africa, and it became one of the largest tobacco firms in Africa.

In 1988, Rupert’s eldest son, Johann Ruperts, divided the Rembrandt group into two companies—Remegro and Richemont. Remegro is an investment company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and it holds properties in various industries, such as the banking, healthcare and industrial sectors. Richemont is a Swiss-based luxury goods company, where Johann Ruperts serves as CEO since 2010.

According to Forbes, the Africa based Remegro is one of the top 10 family businesses in Africa. At the same time, Richemont has been developing rapidly since being divided from Rembrandt. However, the influence of tobacco business has been crucial in it.

Since founded in 1988, in addition to holdings in luxury brands, such as Cartier Monde and Alfred Dunhill, Richemont also acquired Rembrandt’s shares in Rothmans International, a British tobacco manufacturer. In 1993, Richemont separated its tobacco and luxury goods operations into Rothmans Internationa NV/PLC and Vendôme Luxury Group SA/PLC respectively. In 1995, Richemont bought out of Rothmans International minority shareholders, and in the next year, Richemont increased its property by merging its tobacco interests with those in South Africa held by Remegro and holding 67 percent of the enlarged tobacco group. In 1999, after Rothmans International with British American Tobacco, Richemont holds 23.3 percent effective interest in the enlarged British American Tobacco. Although from 2000 to 2006 Richemont had been reducing its effective interest in British American Tobacco from 23.3 to 18.2 percent, its effective interests have increased to 30 percent in 2007 as British American Tobacco’s share buyback programm reduces the overall number of shares in issue.

Recently, Richemont belongs to the luxury consumer goods sector, whose business includes jewelry, fine watchmaking and premium accessories. Its “Jewellery Maisons,” which produces high jewelry and jewlry watches, mainly includes Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, which lead the global branded jewelry sector. Its eight specialist watchmakers are concentrated in Switzerland and are the most renowned in the fine watchmaking industry. In addition, 30 percent of Richemont is in the industry of premium accessories, including writing instruments, leather goods and fashion.

Nowadays, Richemont is the second largest luxury goods company worldwide. Regarding the developmental history of its business, Africa has always been the backup for its luxury consumer goods sector. Thus, Richemont demonstrates the possibility of transition from poverty to luxury, and it shows us vast commercial opportunity in the land of Africa.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: Forbes, Richemont
Photo: BizNews

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If you are guilty of spending too much money on beautiful handmade jewelry, consider making your next shopping trip online with Soko, a social enterprise that supports artisans in the developing world through a mobile web platform.

Similar to Etsy, Soko functions as an online marketplace, with every purchase directly benefitting its creator. The idea for Soko began with the collaboration of its three founders—Ella Peinovich, Gwendolyn Floyd and Catherine Mahugu, who were living and working around the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

It was here that they met and spoke with women who were receiving just a fraction of the profit that they should be earning from their handmade jewelry. Although the founders saw the potential in the craft of these artisans, they also recognized the lack of a consumer market—something they set out to solve with the creation of their, company Soko, which means “marketplace” in Swahili.

Since its inception in 2011, Soko has been changing lives by providing an innovative way for artisans to reach a global market through mobile phone technology. By registering with the company, artisans can upload photos of their creations which are then available on Soko’s online shops. At the touch of a button, artisans can engage with brands, retailers and online customers from around the world.

All materials used from Soko are natural as well as upcycled—meaning that they are taken from old and discarded items to be created into something beautiful. Stylistically, Soko is conscious of the popularity of modern designs and works with artisans to design both sustainable and fashion-forward jewelry.

When asked to describe the company in one way in an interview with Inspire Afrika magazine, the founders said that they like to think of Soko as “empowering women.” Today, there are more than 1,000 artists in the Soko community, 41,309 products have been sold and the average artisan’s household income has increased by four times its former number.

It was Soko’s vision for a majority of profits to return back into the hands of the local artisans, and through Soko, women have not only gained the opportunity to engage with an international marketplace, but they have also found a way to ultimately improve their livelihoods.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: Philanthropy Page, Shop Soko, Inspire Africa
Photo: Manhattan with a Twist

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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

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Countless everyday appliances and gadgets would not exist if it were not for the minerals that come from Africa. From cars to cell phones, laptops, airplanes and batteries, much of what makes the world go round depends on resource-rich African nations that are being fueled by a global commodities boom.

Although much can be said of whether the rising demand for these minerals is actually benefiting those at the bottom of the pyramid, it is certain that emergent African economies are growing thanks to these raw materials. If well-managed, Africa’s mineral resources can lift the continent out of poverty and catapult it toward growth and prosperity for all.

Here are some of the everyday objects that are created with African natural resources.

1.       Cars

The catalytic converters in cars that are made to reduce pollution are made with platinum and rhodium. South Africa alone produces 72% of the world’s platinum and 83% of the world’s rhodium.

2.       Electronics

Devices such as cell phones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets are made from tantalum. Africa provides 71% of the world’s tantalum, with Mozambique leading the region as the source of 24% of the global production of the mineral, followed by Rwanda with 20% of the production.

3.       Jewelry

In 2011, more than 57% of the world’s diamonds, nearly 75% of the world’s platinum and 20% of the world’s gold was found in Africa. Botswana is the world’s second largest producer of gem diamonds, and in 2011, the diamond industry accounted for half of the government revenue.

4.       Batteries

The cobalt used in the electrodes of rechargeable batteries is growing rapidly in demand due to the use of portable electronic devices. In 2011, Africa accounted for 58% of the global production of cobalt, while the Democratic Republic of Congo alone represented 48% of this supply. Mineral mining, however, has been implicated in funding conflict in the country.

5.       Airplanes

Many aircraft parts are made with aluminum alloys, which can account for up to 80% of the jet’s weight. Jet engines also use superalloys that contain cobalt and chromium. South Africa represents 47% of the global production of chromite – used to produce chromium -, while Guinea represents 8% of the world’s production of bauxite, used to make aluminum. Guinea has almost half of the world’s bauxite reserves and is predicted to become a world-leading producer of iron ore in the next decade.

6.       Electricity

Besides coal and gas, Africa produces 16% of the world’s uranium, which is the source of the nuclear fuel that provides 14% of the world’s electricity.

7.       Oil

Last year, Africa produced 10% of all the world’s oil – nearly 9.4 million barrels per day. Leading this production is Nigeria, with 37 billion barrels of proven reserves of oil – enough to keep supplying oil at 2011 levels for the next 40 years.

– Nayomi Chibana
Feature Writer

Sources: African Minerals Development Centre, CNN
Photo: CSMonitor