What happens when one woman decides to do something about the all pain, suffering, and injustice in the world? The answer is Global Girlfriends.
In 2003, Stacey Edgar received a $2000 tax return and instead of spending it on herself, she chose to invest it in something that would actually help people. As a social worker, she knew how difficult it is for people born into unfortunate circumstances to pull themselves out of the pit. And that’s just in the United States – one of the richest countries in the world. How much worse, Stacey wondered, must be the situation for poor people globally who not only face poverty but also war, famine, diseases, and political oppression?
Cote d’Ivoire Beach Beaded Necklace made by Mimi Zekre, a young woman designer in a cooperative. Peace has come to Ivory Coast and now the challenge is to rebuild families through sustainable income.
Stacey felt that her DIY activism should focus primarily on women. Many women around the world are denied education and professional training and as a result they depend on their male relatives to take care of them. If the male relatives fail to do so, women are left destitute. Women make up for 70% of the world poor, writes Stacey in the first chapter of her book. And, of course, a total economical dependence together with inferior status in the society fosters domestic violence and all kinds of physical and emotional abuse.
When Stacey received her $2000 tax return, her mother-in-law Brenda (a member of the board of the United Nations World Food Programme) brought back from her Ethiopia travels a bunch of various necklaces and scarves crafted by Ethiopian women who hoped to sell them to a local community of foreigner aid workers. Stacey saw how pretty they were, and figured she could find a market for them in the United States and help the Ethiopian women to build their own small business. And if she could do it for women in Ethiopia, she could do it for women all around the world.
These peruvian floral wool belts are so, so nice. They even have nice buckles. How rare it is to see a belt that actually has a nice buckle.
What started out as a small project in Stacey’s basement grew into a million-dollar enterprise. Global Girlfriends is now part of the GreaterGood network, a for-profit but strictly fair-trade company whose focus is on developing local small businesses and supporting worthy causes. Global Girlfriends stayed faithful to its original mission: Supporting women and only women in their fight for better lives for themselves and their children. Stacey insists that women are the ones who need help the most but willingly provides a list of her competitors who offer similar services which involve everyone in need.
Stacey’s powerful book of her experiences, Global Girlfriends, includes the personal stories of women around the world who describe the positive changes that Global Girlfriends brought to their lives. Stacey is a firm believer in creating a connection between customers and manufacturers. When you buy a T-shirt or a piece of jewelry from the Global Girlfriend’s website, you will get to know exactly where it is coming from, who made it and why, and what the situation looks like in that region. Global Girlfriends is working with women from literally everywhere – from African countries through Haiti and South America to Nepal. Many of the artisans and manufacturers are physically disabled or otherwise disadvantaged women that would never be given a chance of employment in their home countries without outside help.
Stacey’s idea isn’t unique, and she willingly shares a list of her competitors in the back of her book because when the goal is shared, competition ceases being a threat.
The real power of Stacey’s story is the message behind it: Do not let anybody to tell you that one person cannot make a difference! She has thousands of women from all around the world giving voice to show that’s simply not true.