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SheaMoisture's philanthropic efforts in Africa
As brands in the U.S. continue to see the importance of fair trade and ethically-conscious practices in business, many have also developed philanthropic initiatives. SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa have helped thousands of economically disadvantaged women and children gain resources to educational and entrepreneurial resources.

The hair and skin care brand was established under Sundial Brands, which was founded by Richelieu Dennis in 1991. Since then, SheaMoisture acquired an estimated $300 million in revenue before it was sold to Unilever in 2017.

SheaMoisture’s Philanthropic Efforts in Africa

Nations that have benefitted from SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa include Ghana and Liberia. In these two countries, women face cultural oppression in the areas of education and entrepreneurship.

In a report published by the U.N., it was stated that women in Ghana are more vulnerable to poverty than men due to gender discrimination and increasingly difficult access to productive resources. This has also led to women facing greater challenges with obtaining a post-primary education.

Women in Liberia face economic challenges due to a poor governance structure and low private sector capacity that has resulted in a weak business environment within the nation. Furthermore, Liberia’s labor force lacks many skilled and literate people, which has resulted in lingering business corruption.

Over the years, SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa have included initiatives such as Community Commerce, the Girls Entrepreneurship and Technology (GET) Program and the Sofi Tucker Foundation.

Community Commerce

SheaMoisture established a special line of products under their Community Commerce initiative, where 10 percent of sales support women in Ghana, among other nations. This venture has been a success because it has brought economic opportunities to women threatened by poverty and educational disadvantages.

Over time, Community Commerce has invested an estimated $2.1 million in its programs, which have brought needed resources to an estimated 14,500 Ghanaian women. The company, in turn, has been able to meet its product demand, with an estimated 420,000 kilos of shea butter having been produced by women who are beneficiaries of Community Commerce.

The GET Program for Students

Another initiative SheaMoisture has established is the GET Program, which was established in partnership with SMART Liberia. The program provides women between the ages of 18 to 35 the opportunities to start their own businesses by giving them resources like training and business investments.

In its inaugural year in 2016, the program selected 50 young women in Liberia to participate, several of whom have gone on to start and manage their own businesses.

The Sofi Tucker Foundation

Another philanthropic initiative established by the company is the Sofi Tucker Foundation, which was named after the woman who inspired the SheaMoisture brand.

The organization has awarded other non-profits with grants up to $25,000 to continue philanthropy work. One organization that has benefitted from these efforts is Todee Mission School in Liberia, which provides quality educational resources to children from first grade to ninth grade from 140 villages in rural Liberia.

As of now, thousands of people initially threatened by poverty have been able to establish stronger financial and educational platforms for their futures. This is due to SheaMoisture’s philanthropic efforts in Africa and the ongoing efforts brands have made over the years to combat poverty in nations with fragile economies.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr

Fashion companies that address extreme poverty
Some would say that fashion is their life. Others say they don’t care about what they wear. For fashion companies that address extreme poverty, finding a middle ground can make all the difference. Companies like the ones below would argue that fashion can both impassion the apathetic and give cause to the already passionate.

Raven and Lily – Empowering Women. Alleviating Poverty.

Live thoughtfully. With this as one of her life axioms, Kirsten Dickerson created her unique and ethical brand of fashion, Raven and Lily, in 2008. In 2013, Dickerson met a group of female Afghan artisans living for decades as refugees on the Pakistan border. The experience moved her to expand her business.

Since then, Raven and Lily formed 17 partnerships throughout 10 countries while employing more than 1,500 women. Dickerson provides jobs and educational opportunities as well as an ethical and sustainable product. “We are genuinely trying to think through all levels of our production practices and how people on the planet are affected,” Dickerson said.

By providing steady employment, including fair wages and education, Raven and Lily has established itself among the fashion companies that address extreme poverty on the most foundational of levels.

Accompany – Where Every Purchase has a Purpose.

If asked about its mission, Accompany will say its first priority is to help human beings. Ranked among the fashion companies that address extreme poverty head-on, the organization has an uncomplicated approach to the way it does business. Its three-tier system ensures the products have a purpose by:

  • Being handmade.
  • Abiding fair trade practices.
  • Having philanthropy at the center.

The results of this system are exponential: cultural heritage is preserved for generations to come, self-sufficiency is rooted in a new-found education and services are provided to the community at large. In short, change happens.

Socially-conscious industries help create that change. When Jason Keehn founded the organization, his vision was to leverage a thriving industry for global communities in need. As they boldly proclaim on their website: Welcome to a New Style Culture. It’s a culture that seems to be shared by all fashion companies that address extreme poverty.

Apolis – Advocacy through Industry.

With Apolis, the name says it all—a name that means “global citizen.” When they created their company in 2004, brothers Raan and Shea Parton believed business could be the impetus for social change. They have taken that belief, along with their investment in people, and have created a model for other fashion companies that address extreme poverty.

A certified B Corporation, Apolis meets high standards with regard to social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. When asked about their brand of activism, Shea Parton stated, “[it’s] really about how you can go into an impoverished country and find a resource or product or raw material that allows you to bring it into the marketplace and to give an opportunity rather than charity.”

This mindset likely formed from a young age, according to Parton, who says “our parents knew that if we stayed in Santa Barbara, we would never know how good we had it.” With constant travel to countries like Uganda and India, the Parton brothers learned perspective early on, and they have put their perspective into action.

Bloom + Grace – Beautifully Made. Ethically Sourced. Globally Minded.

Bloom and Grace was founded in 2013, a jewelry company resulting from an inspired founder. When Dani Lachowicz found herself working in sub-Saharan Africa, she seized an opportunity she knew would change the lives of children in developing countries. Partnering with the U.N. Foundation’s [email protected] campaign and with local artisans, proceeds from Bloom and Grace go toward life-saving vaccinations.

Just how life-saving are vaccinations in developing countries? Here are some facts:

  • A child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.
  • The World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Global Alliance for Vaccinations have already seen a 99 percent reduction in polio and a 78 percent reduction in measles-related deaths.
  • Increasing access to vaccines can prevent 1.5 million deaths each year.

It is Bloom and Grace’s hope to empower communities and to promote entrepreneurship, while also living up to their namesake by allowing children the opportunity to bloom by the grace of socially-conscious patrons.

Krochet Kids, Intl. – Creating Jobs. Changing Lives.

Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey and Travis Hartanov founded Krochet Kids, Intl. from a shared high school hobby of crochet. Krochet Kids Intl. looks for ways to empower people to rise above poverty and provides life-changing job opportunities for women in need in Uganda and Peru.

With each purchase, consumers are invited to meet the maker of their product and are encouraged to write a note of thanks and encouragement. With this very personal approach to business and a partnership with We Are Capable, an organization with 10 years of experience fighting extreme poverty, the organization is able to stay committed to its desired areas of impact:

  • Women in poverty-stricken regions
  • Job opportunities
  • Education

Fashion companies that address extreme poverty understand that behind every fabric is a face, and behind every accessory is an opportunity for access to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it.

– Daniel Staesser

Photo: Flickr

AT&T philanthropy
In 1876, AT&T founder Alexander Graham Bell developed one of the most significant devices ever invented, the telephone. In 1947, AT&T created the concept of cellular telephony, and in 1948 they built the first network service that allowed television broadcasters to connect between cities. In 1971, AT&T produced Unix, the underlying language of the internet.

In addition to its technical advancements, for AT&T philanthropy has become one of its core missions, beginning in the early days with the goal to provide telephone access to every household in the United States. Eventually, that core focus evolved as AT&T transitioned from a telephone company to a wireless technology company firmly committed to the potential for technological advances that connected the world.

In its drive for global interconnectivity, AT&T has donated $139.3 million to philanthropic efforts around the globe. Their programs are divided into several focus areas, including art and culture, civic and community, health and welfare, as well as education.

In Malaysia, AT&T partnered with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to host an annual developers’ day in Kuala Lumpur. The event opened opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Asia to compete by producing mobile applications.

AT&T philanthropy efforts provided the networking infrastructure and educational resources that made the event a success. The winners of the competition received $10,000. Additionally, AT&T provided five scholarships to Udacity for an online degree in the technology field.

In Mexico, AT&T funds a project called “Laboratoria”. This organization discovers talented women and helps them learn the skills they need to be successful in the business world, including teaching them web development and programming. The curriculum is comprehensive and connects graduates with companies that will likely hire them, including AT&T.

Other charities that AT&T is involved with include TECHO, a youth-led nonprofit focused on poverty-stricken areas in Latin America and the Carribean. AT&T’s funding of TECHO supports the building of pre-manufactured modular homes, made in two days with the participation of youth volunteers and families in the community. The collaborative aspects of TECHO’s approach help to further build trust amongst the volunteers and the communities they serve.

In 2016, AT&T philanthropy efforts granted $1.35 million to Télécoms Sans Frontières. Headquartered in Europe with sister stations in Bangkok and Nicaragua, they provide emergency telco service and support to first responders, victims and volunteers who are affected by natural disasters.

AT&T also supports Junior Achievement worldwide in Europe and Latin America, which awards students access to work experience program,s granting scholars the ability to join entrepreneurial programs that empower them to learn how to create their enterprise.

Uniquely, AT&T’s philanthropy efforts do not merely fund free giveaways. They have curated their philanthropy to focus on significant long-term solutions offering education and job readiness courses.

AT&T’s mission statement says, “Today, our mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.” The firm belief of connecting everyone everywhere has enabled AT&T to support causes that cover every continent on the globe.

– Hector Cruz

Photo: Flickr

How Women are Supporting Women
The world will never be the same after the surge of the #MeToo movement. The power of united women is a force to be reckoned with, and this online, female-instigated movement brought forth powerful impacts to the status of affairs, the society and the world at large.

In the light of recent events, the Borgen Project went a step further to find out how women are supporting women around the world. More importantly, how women-led-organizations are strengthening other women around the world to fight against poverty and hunger. In this research, two organizations stood out: Mama Cash and Foundation for Women.

Mama Cash

Mama Cash is an Amsterdam-based non-profit organization that provides financial support to women-led organizations in developing nations. Started in 1983 by a group of five like-minded feminist women around a kitchen table, the organization recently received around $5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Foundation for Women

Foundation for Women (FFW) is another great example of how women are supporting women. This group is a microfinancing organization founded in 1997 by philanthropist Deborah Lindholm. Based in San Diego, it enables individual women to achieve financial independence by providing microloans ranging from $250 to $1000.

Whom the Organizations Support

FFW’s nurtures women entrepreneurs in India and Sub Saharan African countries like Zambia, Niger and Liberia, and provide the women in these locations much-needed capital without requiring security money deposits or collateral. In fact, an applicant only needs:

  • An authorized proof of residence
  • A business idea

Mama Cash addresses the cause women empowerment through “movement building.” Movement building provides grants to indigenous women-led organizations that work at the grass-root level in India, Sri Lanka, Peru, Serbia and many others, that then work with local communities to empower its women.

The Funding Process

To understand precisely how women are supporting women, one must pay attention to the funding process. FFW sources fund directly from donors online to sponsor a woman entrepreneur in an impoverished country.

However, Mama Cash has a step-by-step process to select a grantee. The organization accepts applications only once a year during a “grant window,” wherein the company interacts with all stakeholders (founders, advisors, end beneficiaries) before sanctioning a grant. Even after the grant is decided upon, the members continue to provide knowledge and technical assistance to all involved.

Both Mama Cash and FFW strive to achieve a common goal of empowering women to earn their livelihood, attain economic security and gain equal property and human rights. These admirable efforts are uniting women across the globe, and all nations wait with bated breath to see what these empowered females accomplish next.

– Himja Sethi

Photo: Flickr

Product (RED)Apple is the world’s most valuable company and remains the most innovative company of 2018 according to the coveted Fast Company Magazine annual tally. Apple’s financial success began with the maturing of the iPod market in 2005. A year later, U2 frontman Bono worked with the then-CEO and founder Steve Jobs to launch a limited-edition iPod Product (RED).

Apple’s Product (RED) has raised more than $160 million. The contribution helps people affected by HIV in Ghana, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. (RED) has raised more than $475 million, and Apple generated two-thirds of the total. Funds collected by Apple through Product (RED) support The Global Fund, an organization that has granted $4 billion to local medical experts in more than 140 countries.

The partnership between corporations and nonprofits spearheaded by (RED) has boosted innovation and investments in the race to find a cure for AIDS. Fifty percent of all profit collected through Apple Product (RED) goes to the fight against AIDS. With Apple leading the way since 2006, a myriad of other notable companies has joined the fight including Starbucks, Bank of America, Coca-Cola and Beats by Dre.

Apple created a dedicated online storefront that features limited edition red colored products. The most recent additions include Apple Watch, Beats by Dre, iPad Type Cover, iPod Touch and now Apple Pay purchases made via Bank of America cards donate one dollar for every purchase.

The ultimate goal of (RED) has been to eliminate the transmission of the AIDs virus from mothers to their babies using innovative medical techniques like antiretrovirals which are supplied to mothers to prevent HIV from growing and multiplying within their bodies. Additionally, the babies are given Nevirapine daily for about six weeks or more, based on individual circumstances. Typically, mothers who adhere to this regimen can reduce the risk of transmission to their unborn children down to five percent.

Apple is a behemoth that has enamored many people around the planet. With its support of Product (RED) not only does it increase funding, but it helps bring awareness to the issues faced by underdeveloped countries. Links to Product (RED) and The Global Fund are directly embedded into Apple’s online storefront, and annually on World AIDS day the company launches merchandising material in all of its physical stores including digital marketing on Apple.com and the Apple App Store.

Apple has historically always used unique methods to achieve goals, and during recent world events like the earthquakes that took place in Haiti and Japan, it leveraged its mega-customer base on iTunes and the App Store to collect donations ranging from five dollars to 200 dollars. Apple is The Global Fund’s most substantial corporate donor, and CEO Tim Cook has continued to make philanthropy a central aspect of his legacy at Apple.

Apple aims to continue to revolutionize the world with its products, while also helping nonprofits implement technology that betters the planet. Through campaigns like Product (RED) and its ability to connect at a deep level with its customers, Apple has more than achieved this goal.

– Hector Cruz

Photo: Flickr

15 organizations that help the world

With the myriad difficulties that face the world, it is essential to have organizations making the planet a better place. Without such generous assistance, the world would be plagued with unmanageable adversities. The following is a list of 15 organizations that help improve the world with their innovative ideas and generous efforts.

  1. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is an organization that works to fight hunger and its consequential effects on a global scale. It works specifically to eradicate infectious diseases and child mortality rates in struggling countries.
  1. Doctors Without Borders
    Doctors Without Borders delivers emergency aid to people in need. These efforts include helping people in situations of natural disasters, epidemics and lack of health care.
  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    The FAO’s prime purpose is to defeat hunger. It works in 130 countries worldwide to help ensure people have access to food and are not going hungry. The organization has been fighting hunger since 1945.
  1. Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch was established in 1978 and is an organization that reports on human rights conditions in countries all over the world. With its findings, it meets with governments and financial corporations to urge for policy changes that assist the betterment of human rights around the world.
  1. Oxfam
    Oxfam is a global organization that helps improve the world through poverty-reduction efforts. It focuses on the conditions that cause poverty and works to fix the effects of such difficulties. Its efforts include disaster response, programs to help people afflicted by poverty and education improvement.
  1. Red Cross
    Founded in 1881, the Red Cross foundation works to help people in urgent need. Assisted greatly by volunteers, the Red Cross mainly provides disaster relief, support to America’s military families, health and safety services, blood donations and international services.
  1. Save the Children
    Save the Children is a nonprofit organization that focuses primarily on helping children in need. This includes emergency response, global health initiatives, HIV and Aids prevention, disaster response and creating educational opportunities. In 2016, Save the Children reached and assisted 157 million children.
  1. The Borgen Project
    The Borgen Project is a nonprofit organization that aims to end poverty by working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy. The organization is an influential ally for the world’s poor that educates and mobilizes people to communicate with their Congressional leaders to ensure funding for poverty-fighting efforts are not eliminated. In 2017, the organization had volunteers in 754 U.S. cities and is one of the 15 organizations that help improve the world immensely.
  1. The World Bank
    The World Bank works with other organizations to provide extensive financial assistance to developing countries. It was established in 1944 and has more than 10,000 employees and 120 offices worldwide.
  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
    The UNDP is an organization that aims to eradicate poverty. It implements this goal by developing policies, skills and partnerships to enable people to sustain their progress and improvement. The UNDP is in over 170 countries and territories.
  1. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
    UNICEF is an organization that fights for children’s rights to shelter, nutrition, protection and equality. It does so by being children’s advocates and providing humanitarian assistance to children and their families, most often in developing countries.
  1. United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
    USAID is an international agency that provides development assistance to countries in need. It works to advance U.S. national security and “economic prosperity” by promoting self-sufficiency. It uses humanitarian response efforts to bring disaster relief and supplies to those who are struggling.
  1. World Food Programme (WFP)
    WFP’s mission is to fight world hunger and provide people around the world the quality food they need to survive. It does this by working with U.S. policymakers and other foundations to organize financial resources, as well as develop necessary policies to assist the fight against worldwide hunger.
  1. World Health Organization (WHO)
    Of the 15 organizations that help improve the world, WHO is among the largest. The WHO is an organization that works directly with governments and various partners to ensure a healthier future for people all around the world. It fights infectious diseases and works directly with mothers and children to improve and maintain their health.
  1. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
    The WWF is an international nongovernmental organization working to conserve nature and reduce extreme threats. It also aims to increase awareness to prevent further damage to the earth and its inhabitants.

These are only 15 organizations that help improve the world. There are many more that work together with partners to help make the world a better and safer place to live. Their generosity helps people on a daily basis live healthier and happier lives, and it is troublesome to think of where the world would be without such assistance.

– McCall Robison

Photo: Flickr

Hard Rock Philanthropy
Raising funds for philanthropic causes around the world has been a commitment that Hard Rock pursues through the use of mottos, which can be seen in all their locations and sales.

The recognized chain of theme restaurants contributes to various humanitarian and environmental causes through the sale of original and sometimes limited edition Hard Rock products.

With the motto “LOVE ALL – SERVE ALL,” Hard Rock has been using corporate philanthropy as a business strategy that allows the corporation to support global and local communities.

According to the Hard Rock website, the corporation has been advocating and supporting humanitarian and environmental causes since its first day in 1971. The company supports various philanthropic partners, each tied to different mottos based on the causes the partners focus on:

TAKE TIME TO BE KIND

These are Hard Rock’s philanthropic partners that focus on humanitarian and human rights causes:

American Indian Veterans Memorial, American Red Cross, Amnesty International, Bombay Teen Challenge, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Caron Keating Foundation, St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), City of Joy, Crossroads Center, David Lynch Foundation, Fundacion Pies Descalzos, Global Angels, Habitat for Humanity, Holster Project, Hope North, Make A Wish Foundation, MPP HAITI, Music for Relief, Musicians on Call, Music Rising, Nordoff Robbins – UK, Pathfinder Academy, Pattanarak Foundation, Peace First, Roots & Shoots, The Mercury Phoenix Trust, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, TJ Martell Foundation, Vicente Ferrer Foundation and WhyHunger.

SAVE THE PLANET

These partners focus on environmental causes such as habitat and animal protection:

Arbor Day Foundation, Farm Aid, Sustainable BioDiesel Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Society and Cotton Conservation Initiative (CCI).

ALL IS ONE

These are organizations in the entertainment industry that advocate for different causes:

GRAMMYs/National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Grammy Museum, LATIN GRAMMYs/Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Country Music Awards, MusicCares, Gibson Foundation, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Heard The World.

Hard Rock supports all of its partners by creating awareness, funding and by educating others about the different projects and causes for which their partners advocate.

Hard Rock also creates a variety of original products that are sold with a charitable purpose.

The company created the “Signature Series” t-shirt line as a way for artists to donate and do humanitarian labor by providing an original design to Hard Rock. These designs are printed on limited edition t-shirts and are sold in every Hard Rock location, as well as Hard Rock’s online shop.

Artists select charities from around the world and proceeds from their t-shirt sales are donated to those charities.

So far, Hard Rock has released 33 “Signature Series” t-shirts created by various artists including Imagine Dragons, Kiss, Linkin Park, U2, The Who, Bon Jovi, Shakira and Queen.

Current “Signature Series” t-shirts, as well as pins, bracelets and earbuds, are available in Hard Rock stores worldwide and online. The purchase of these items contributes to donations to different philanthropic causes.

Hard Rock Philanthropy is the humanitarian side of the Hard Rock company. With the use of mottos, products and partnerships with organizations and artists, Hard Rock is advocating to make the world a better place by loving and serving all.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Hard Rock 1, Hard Rock 2, Hard Rock 3, Hard Rock 4, Hard Rock 5
Photo: La Republica Firenze

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 leftover 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 go 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 the 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 that 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

Child-Labor-in-Vietnam
Over 1.75 million Vietnamese children, 9.6 percent of the population of people under 18 in the country, are laborers. Child Labor in Vietnam consists of children who are forced to work long hours, normally with little to no pay, in crowded factories or on agricultural farms. One third of the children work an average of 42 hours per week, and the majority are not able to attend school.

Labor trafficking — both domestically and internationally — is a major problem. As explained by a BBC report, trafficking gangs normally target rural villages, where they offer to take kids to cities in order to give them vocational training or technical skills. Parents normally agree because the people in these remote communities are not aware of the risks of human trafficking. Also, traffickers benefit from the “golden egg” culture of Vietnam, where children are sent to work abroad and send money back for the family.

Rather than receiving vocational training, the children taken from rural villages are forced to work, some in factories, some in domestic labor and others in agricultural labor. BBC discussed the case of Hieu (who declined to give his real name), an 18-year-old boy who was taken from the rural village of Dien Bien. Dien Bien is in the northwest, on the border of Vietnam and China. It is one of the poorest areas in the country.

Hieu was put into a small room, where he and the 11 other kids taken from his village were forced to work from 6 a.m. until midnight. They received no pay, and were beaten with a stick if they made a mistake. Hieu was finally able to escape when he and two other teenage boys jumped out the third story window at 1 a.m. Hieu has since been helped by the Blue Dragon Foundation, a Vietnamese-based charity that works to help child trafficking victims, and is now training to be a mechanic.

Groups like the Blue Dragon Foundation are making a difference. The foundation itself has rescued over 230 child trafficking victims since 2005. However, child trafficking continues to remain an issue in Vietnam, and Blue Dragon co-founder Michael Brosowski explained that it is likely getting worse because people are realizing how lucrative it can be.

Vietnam has been praised for its efforts to crack down on child trafficking internationally, since it has increased the number of prosecutions it holds to help end overseas gang activity. However, Vietnam’s control of child trafficking within the country itself needs to increase. Internal trafficking only became officially recognized in 2011, and traffickers are normally not given harsh punishments. The person who trafficked Hieu and the 11 other children from Dien Bien was fined $500 and his factory was closed down, but he did not go to court.

Part of the confusion over what sort of punishment must be given those who traffic internally in Vietnam stems from the fact that some child laborers are paid. While they are normally paid only a small amount, some argue that if a child who is poor, does not have enough to eat and had dropped out of school goes to a factory and gets paid, it is not necessarily a bad thing.

While there is still debate over trafficking within Vietnam, it has been more firmly established that trafficking Vietnamese children internationally needs to be stopped. As The Guardian said, one of the major destinations for traffickers who send Vietnamese children abroad to work is Britain, where over 3000 children are sent to work on cannabis farms, in nail bars, garment factories, brothels or in domestic labor. In order to combat this influx, in March of 2015, the UK passed a bill designed to increase the prosecution of traffickers and give more rights to those sent into modern slavery. However, some Vietnamese children who are sent to the UK and forced to work in cannabis cultivation are prosecuted for their actions, while their traffickers are not.

In recent years, a lot has been done in order to stop child labor within Vietnam and to stop the flow of Vietnamese children who are being trafficked into modern slavery around the world. However, in order to continue the fight against child labor and human trafficking, laws have to be more strictly enforced and clear conditions have to be set about how to punish those who traffic internally.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: BBC, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Stop Child Labor: The Child Labor Coalition, Vietnam: The US Embassy, International Labour Organization
Photo: Sapa Trek

What-is-Philanthropic
What does it mean to be Philanthropic? Philanthropy is a noun that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the “love of mankind” and “the disposition or active effort to promote the happiness and well being of others.” In our current society, the word philanthropic tends to be an interchangeable term with entrepreneurial. As those who are seen as philanthropic tend to be those individuals who are financially involved with an organization promoting effort to help those in need.

This current view on philanthropy by society is harmful in the way that it seems to prevent, or even stigmatize, philanthropic efforts on the small scale. These small-scale efforts can be seen as insignificant and unrealistic by a public assuming that only grandiose donations from entrepreneurial individuals can make a difference, which is a major factor for why many people do not get involved with social problems.

Philanthropy at its core is having a love for humanity, and there are many ways for people to become involved. Individual efforts over long periods of time can be as effective, if not more so, as a grand one-time financial gesture. While an entrepreneurial spirit can help with the sustainability of a philanthropic organization, they should not rely solely on financial gain. This would defeat the purpose of trying to make positive change.

Other than participating financially, volunteering time and effort to a philanthropic cause can make a difference in helping create positive change.

So as philanthropy exists to benefit others, it should be no surprise that participating in these efforts can help create a personal benefit and fulfillment within the individual. In recent studies regarding volunteer work and its physical benefits, the results showed a 22 percent reduction in mortality of the volunteer work participants. It has been proven that when an individual is involved with the helping of their fellow man, the reward center in the brain that produces the neurotransmitter dopamine creates a feeling of fulfillment and greater happiness, or a “helper’s high.” In addition, there are many other benefits to an individual volunteering within philanthropic organizations, such as better pain management and lower blood pressure.

To be philanthropic is to express love for all of mankind and to help in any way. While the majority of individuals choose to participate financially, it is important to realize that not all philanthropic ventures need this. Choosing to volunteer can help these philanthropic organizations continue to make a positive change within our society.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, Inc., Huffington Post
Photo: Blake Rubin