SEEDS hosts bazaar to support female artisans

Several organizations that promote entrepreneurship among underprivileged women sold goods at SEEDS's Fair Trade Bazaar.

Several organizations that promote entrepreneurship among underprivileged women sold goods at SEEDS's Fair Trade Bazaar.

Few students would suspect that the beads in the brightly-colored necklaces for sale outside the Collis Center on Wednesday were once plastic bags, discarded papers and scraps of metal from a landfill in Guatemala City. The unconventional jewelry, crafted by women living in neighborhoods adjacent to the city dump in conjunction with the nonprofit group Safe Passage, was sold at the Fair Trade Artisan Bazaar Wednesday afternoon.

The Fair Trade Bazaar was organized by the Social Enterprise and Economic Development Society, and featured handmade goods by women from several organizations that benefit under-served communities around the world.

The Family Place, an organization based in Norwich, Vt., also provided handcrafted jewelry made by local young mothers who are currently receiving welfare, according to Liya Shuster ’10, the Class of 1982 social entrepreneur fellow for the Tucker Foundation, who has volunteered with the program for the past year. The organization educates young mothers and their children by providing them with training in budgeting and debt counseling, she said.

Under the organization’s “JewelryOs” program, the women craft jewelry in their spare time, she said. The jewelry made with natural stones, beads and antique glass is then sold to create a source of income for The Family Place.

Women’s Trust, a microfinance organization based in Ghana, sold crocheted bags made by women from the village of Pokuase, according to Lesley Hadley, an Upper Valley resident volunteer who represented the organization at the bazaar.

The group aims to “support social and economic empowerment for women and girls living in poverty through microenterprise, education, and health care,” according to the organization’s website.

Hadley noted that the hand-made crocheted bags are only one project in a larger goal of empowering women through microfinance.

“If you get money into the hands of women and empower them, you can fight global poverty,” she said.

The bags, called “Kami Ami” which translates to “keep it loose, not too tight” in the Ga tribal language are woven from plastic bags that otherwise would have littered the streets and are lined with both African and American-made fabric, according to a pamphlet provided by Women’s Trust. The women receive a “fair and just daily wage” for the crafts they produce, according to the pamphlet.

The jewelry sold by Safe Passage, which is based in Guatemala, was created as part of the organization’s CREAMOS jewelry cooperative, according to Nell Pierce ’13, who volunteered with the organization for a year before matriculating at the College.

BeadforLife, an organization based in Uganda, sold bracelets and necklaces made from recycled newspaper and magazine paper in an effort to provide opportunities for women to “lift their families out of extreme poverty,” according to a pamphlet provided by the group. Like many of the non-profits featured at the bazaar, BeadforLife runs programs in income generation, entrepreneurial development, vocational training and health care for local communities, according to the pamphlet.

Mercado Global, which is also based in Guatemala, sold scarves and jewelry made by indigenous Guatemalan women. The group’s products are tailored toward a more high-end U.S. market, according to SEEDS communications director Andrea Choi ’11, who organized the event.

SEEDS, which was founded in 2008, focuses on poverty alleviation programs that are both socially beneficial and financially viable in the long run.

“The mission statement of SEEDS is to educate the Dartmouth community about social enterprise and entrepreneurship and economic development issues, and at the same time providing hands-on experience to members as well as pre-professional experience,” Choi said.

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