A couple of good friends of mine have recently returned from a month-long trip to the States (not jealous, not jealous at all). Amongst the gifts they brought back was a fetching, multicoloured bead necklace. It looked African in origin, which turned out to be the case, although it had come from a Colorado-based non-profit called BeadForLife.
The organisation drafts its membership from women in Uganda, and strives to turn them into independent entrepreneurs. The beads they produce are made from recycled paper, bound in glue to create jewellery of outstanding colour and craftsmanship. BeadForLife has helped hundreds of women out of poverty, and enabled them to begin to work and earn for themselves.
Cleverly, the main way the company sells the necklaces, bracelets and ear-rings that come out of Uganda is through Bead Parties. Think the Tupperwear or Anne Summers bashes of the past. Same target audience, same revenue stream, same clever way of snagging disposable income and making sure it's put to good use.
BeadForLife is starting to appear in Europe, and is big in France now. I see little sign of any Bead Parties in the UK, but I'm prepared to be corrected. In fact, I'd be delighted if someone would! BeadForLife is a sterling example of the way fashion and jewellery are helping communities in impoverished countries to make a better life for themselves.
Read more at the international website: BeadForLife