There’s an African proverb that says “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” As an aspiring social enterprise, we’re all about empowering women and communities. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we take a look at companies that are empowering women through education and other socially responsible initiatives.
Based in Guatemala, Hitipico is an ethical fashion brand that showcases indigenous Maya artisans and their handmade creations. Their goal “is to support the creativity, ingenuity and passion of local Guatemalan artisans while preserving Maya culture and traditions.” In 2018 they were named the #1 B-corp in Guatemala and made the top 5 list of social enterprises directly impacting the community in Central America. In case you’re not familiar with the term - “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”
Gone Rural, based in eSwatini (previously Swaziland) make some of the most incredible basketware around. I’ve had the pleasure of using their products in a number of projects and can vouch for their hand-crafted quality and Southern African beauty. BoMake, which means women, is a community development organisation that was founded by Gone Rural in 2006. They created the organisation after identifying the needs of 52 communities in which their 750 women artisans live. Their socially responsible initiative empowers the women and communities through education, health care, and WASH - a clean drinking water and sanitation project.
The Body Shop has a number of women’s empowerment initiatives in the UK, Peru, Nepal and Ghana, one of the many reasons they are a certified B-corp. The Tungteiya Women’s Shea Butter Association based in Ghana handcrafts their acclaimed Shea range. Traditional techniques passed down through generations are used by 500 women to process the shea nuts. The programme also supports community projects like healthcare, sanitation, water and education. Women are able to gain financial independence through the initiative which in turn allows their children to get a better education.
I first heard about this Persian brand when Martina brought light to their beautiful craft on her trip to Iran. Laneh is a social impact business with a commitment to sustainable development in the crafts sector. “They promise fair wages, and invest in the growth of their artisans, by providing knowledge and tools in the areas of skill development, design intervention, productivity enhancement, technical innovation, and market awareness.” Their debut collection was made in partnership with a non-profit collective of over 100 Baluchi needle workers living in a slum called Shir-Abad in Zahedan, where poverty is rampant and people struggle to meet their basic needs. Needle-work is one of the main ways for these women to be financially independent as their society is traditionally male-dominant.
At atotheme we aim to bring light to companies that are impacting the world through eco-friendly practices, zero waste principles and socially responsible initiatives. If you’re a transparent, ethical and earth-conscious business we’d love to collaborate with you. Reach out to us in the comments below.