Carol Schillios of Fabric of Life boutique provided this update on foundation efforts.
First of all, thank you to all our friends who have contacted us to express concern over the situation in Mali and its impact on Hèrè jè Center and the young women who have graduated.
We are especially grateful for those of you who continue to send financial support to help us through this difficult time so we can continue to support the graduates’ needs until the situation stabilizes.
POLITICAL SITUATION IN MALI
Over 200,000 people fled the Timbuktu region to escape al-Qaeda militant Islamist extremists who now occupy almost 2/3 of the country. Neighboring countries have set up refugee camps to assist those who fled and needless to say, Mali is in a difficult economic situation. In Bamako, where Hèrè jè Center is located, it’s relatively calm in the wake of the military coup and counter coup. Marginalized street children need help now more than ever.
Presidential elections from April have been delayed and we’re hopeful that political leaders are working on a strategy to stabilize the situation.
I am in touch with Kaaba, who tells me Hèrè jè Center and the graduates’ cooperative are in temporary recess because of the political uncertainty.
I will be going to Mali in January to assess the situation, assure the safety of the graduates and work on a future strategy to ensure the sustainability of our programs.
The good news is that Hèrè jè Center is forming a partnership with a Malian owned association.
Now that we have tested our development model and seen its potential for success, we are ready to seek out partners to scale the program for sustainability. We are working on a partnership with Association Jeuness Actions Mali (AJA), an internationally certified Fair Trade association working with marginalized youth in the city of Bamako.
We’re excited about the partnership because it will offer the Hèrè jè graduates more options for local work in both artisan and agricultural cooperatives.
You can imagine with the coup and political instability in Mali, it is the poor who suffer the most. Economic development and education are even more critical.
OUR DEVELOPMENT MODEL IS GROWING
Fabric of Life’s philosophy is to use a social business to fund projects that serve marginalized children living and begging on the streets of Bamako. We have grown our volunteer-staffed Fair Trade business over the past four years to serve as a long-term funding mechanism, rather than holding annual fundraising events.
Fabric of Life Fair Trade store now has a solid track record of being able to support projects and we’re ready to expand. We’re excited to announce that in 2013 we will launch a wholesale strategy to help even more girls off the streets.
This means, we will work closely with AJA in Mali to develop unique products for Fair Trade stores across the U.S. We want a sustainable business to help Mali generate economic development. Given the political situation, now is the time for sustainable development and we’re convinced we can make a difference.
Yes, the wholesale operation will be classified a charitable 501(c)3 business because proceeds will go to fund more begging girls off the streets through Fabric of Life Foundation!
While we are not counting on external funding, it’s clear we need capital to launch the wholesale strategy. With that in mind, please see below how we hope to fund our wholesale operation to ensure sustainable income for more Hèrè jè scholarships.
FOL’s FEDEX SMALL BUSINESS GRANT application accepted into competition!
We’ve made it through the first selection process and if chosen as one of the finalists, we are eligible for a $10,000 small business grant. If we’re the grand prize winner, the grant is $25,000! We’re unique in the line-up of businesses and our account rep at FedEx strongly encouraged us to apply.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP US WIN!
To reach the second round, it’s up to our supporters. Please go to the FedEx grant site and vote for our business. You only have to click, you don’t have to sign up for anything or log-in or share any information. AND YOU CAN VOTE EVERY DAY.
Some competitors already have over 3,000 votes. Let’s knock the socks off them. I’m making a shameless plea to please, please post the FedEx Grant link on every social media you have and encourage your friends to vote for us.
DON’T FORGET TO USE
Every time you use GOODSEARCH as your search engine, they give Fabric of Life Foundation a contribution! No cost to you, AND you don’t have to sign up for anything. On the GoodSearch site, just enter “Fabric of Life” into the charity box and we show up as the charity you support every time you search.
We’ve earned over $400 since we started in 2010. Just imagine, some non-profits are earning over $7,000 a year because their supporters use Goodsearch as their search engine. Please help us grow our contributions!
I’m off this Saturday to work in Liberia with a women’s savings and credit cooperative. If you know me, I am still passionate about the credit union cooperative model as an economic development tool. Through my consulting practice I continue to serve credit unions exclusively.
I’ll end with a shameless plea to MAKE A DONATION to our work serving begging homeless girls in Mali. We promise to use your donations wisely.