Friday Favorites: Trades of Hope

Well, due to unforeseen circumstances I am late getting this post started today.  Better late than never, right? Anyway, today I wanted to share with you something that I am very passionate about and that is probably the number one favorite thing in my life right now.  At the end of January I made the decision to join a company called Trades of Hope.  I have shown you pieces from there before, but I was not really a part of it then. Other than maybe seeing me mention it here, most of you have likely never heard of Trades of Hope.  I had never heard of it until a few months ago. I was actually introduced to it by a friend.  The more I learned about the company, the more I fell in love, and the more it pulled at my heartstrings.  I know you are questioning how a direct sales company could really pull at my heartstrings, and I will tell you that it is because this company is changing the world.  Two women and their two daughters started this company several years ago.  They have a belief that every woman should have the opportunity to change her life, and I completely agree. Because of this, they had an idea to empower women across the globe out of sweatshops, slums, sex trafficking and extreme poverty by creating jobs and a sustainable business.  Around 70% of people living in poverty around the world are women.  The men in their lives and countries treat many of them poorly.  In some countries, they are treated as second-class citizens. Some are even sold as bond slaves in order to pay their family’s debts.  Statistically, we have learned that empowering women has a rippling effect on not only her family, but also her community.  A woman will typically invest her money, use it to feed and clothe her family, send her children to school, and use it to help her community. The founders of Trades of Hope (TOH) made it their mission to empower these women out of poverty through job creation and education. Trades of Hope now partners with women all over the world (in 17 countries, including the US) to help them market and sell their beautiful handmade products which include jewelry, scarves, bags, and home décor.

Here are just a few of the things that these women face daily:

*Women in Haiti are forced to give their children to orphanages not because they don’t want them, but because they are not able to feed them. 

*Women in Pakistan are treated like second-class citizens and are often sold as bond slaves to pay their family debts. Just this week I was able to sit in on a live video chat with the leaders of the artisan group there along with two of the artisans. Just hearing the horrible things that they face and the danger they are in daily just because they are women blew me away and totally broke my heart.  However, this artisan group is now providing these women with a safe space to work and an education so that they can better their lives and that of their children. 

*Many women have to sell their bodies on the street in order to feed their children. 

*Some of these women are forced to work 16 hours a day and are forced to leave their young children home alone. 

*Women in Costa Rica are struggling to raise their families in a gang and drug infected area.

*Women in Cambodia are often the victims of acid attacks, which are used as a form of punishment typically passed out by an authority figure who feels disrespected. One of those women named Ya had this to say about her opportunity to partner with TOH:

“I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect.”

If you have never watched or heard of the film, Poverty, Inc. (available on Amazon Prime Video), I highly encourage you to watch it. You can see the trailer below. It talks about how we always see these countries in desperate situations and people in poverty and our first instinct is to offer charity.  We send money; we send clothes; we send food and water. All of that is great, but it doesn’t fix the underlying problem of why these people are poor in the first place. These people don’t want our charity. They want a way to help themselves. They want an opportunity to be able to provide for their families themselves. They want a sustainable income. This is where Trades of Hope comes into play.  By giving these women small business loans, giving them opportunities for education, and by teaching them a skill, these women are able to get themselves out of dangerous and dire situations.  These women, our artisan partners, are able to create the most amazing pieces that my fellow Compassionate Entrepreneurs and I are able to see to all of you through fair trade.  Our artisans are paid 3-6 times more than they would be paid in their countries. We pay them 100% of their asking price up front. 

Here are some of the things that I have been able to do through this company already just in my first month of joining. While they may seem small, it really does have a huge impact on these women’s lives. I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone and create a ripple effect by sharing the mission with everyone I know. Together we can make a difference.

  1. Help empower women in India, Uganda, Peru, Asia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, and Kenya
  2. Plant 4 fruit trees for families in Africa that can be used as food and a source of income
  3. Provide 12 baby chicks whose eggs can soon be used as food and a source of income to a family in Africa
  4. Provide a school uniform for a child in Haiti
Waterfall Necklace made in Uganda

I have been so impressed by this company and its mission.  It truly touches my heart.  If you are interested in learning more about this company or the pieces these artisans create, check it out here. You can also ask to join my Facebook group where I share artisan stories, my favorite pieces, and newly released products. I am sure that I will also be sharing some of the gorgeous handmade products in my future Friday Favorites here because I love them and the stories behind them so much!

Anchored in Hope,