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Meet the four volunteers tackling poverty through social enterprise

Money makes the world go round. With entrepreneurship making up one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, doing business responsibly is key to creating lasting change.

For Matthew, Jennifer, Luis and Lydia, their Raleigh ICS placement gave them the experience to go on to set up their own businesses or support local entrepreneurs when they returned home. Here’s what they’ve done since.

Matthew’s clothing line tackles ‘fast fashion’

Matthew set out to tackle the fast fashion industry
Matthew set out to tackle the fast fashion industry

After being inspired to tackle issues caused by fast fashion, Matthew and two friends started Humantra, an ethical and environmentally-friendly clothing line.

“Fast fashion creates a lot of environmental and socio-economic issues. Many workers in sweatshops are forced to live on incredibly low wages, meaning they may be unable to afford an education, buy food or be able to live a life of dignity,” said Matthew.

“When we looked into it we could see the terrible situation that many people around the world are in because of fast fashion. So, we decided to do something about it.”

After raising over $5000 through crowdfunding, Matthew created t-shirts and vests with messages to inspire other people, making sure that the suppliers they were working with were environmentally friendly and the staff were paid a decent wage.

“We were ensuring we weren’t causing the same issues that fast fashion creates. Our business is trying to reduce the suffering that the fast fashion industry is having on people around the world.”

Jennifer’s jewellery pieces for Tanzania

Jennifer brought back sand from her placement to use to craft jewellery
Jennifer brought back sand from her placement to use to craft jewellery

On her Raleigh ICS placement in Tanzania, Jennifer was inspired to create jewellery from sand she collected in her host community. After returning, she set up Sea Beads, a small jewellery business where the profits go directly to good causes.

“The schoolchildren loved looking at the jewellery that I was wearing. So, when I returned to the UK I wanted to incorporate their story into my Action at Home project,” said Jennifer.

“I started to make beads by mixing sand I brought back from my host village with glue. I then used these beads to make necklaces and bracelets, which I sold.

“I wanted to give something back to Raleigh and Tanzania, so 10% of my profits were donated to Raleigh Tanzania’s school water, sanitation and hygiene projects.”

“I’ve since moved to Dublin and set up a jewellery business called Sea Beads, where I use the same idea of moulding sand from local beaches into beads. Without my Raleigh ICS experience, I never would have had the inspiration or confidence to come up with the idea and start my own business.”

Luis opens up entrepreneurship to his community

Members of his community listen while Luis delivers enterprise training
Members of his community listen while Luis delivers enterprise training

When Luis finished his livelihoods project in Tanzania, he wanted to share the skills he learnt with those in his home community. On his return to Dar es Salaam he set up an entrepreneurship workshop to expand the skills of other entrepreneurs.

“During my Action at Home I taught a group of young people about entrepreneurship using the skills I learnt on my Raleigh ICS project, such as SWOT (which tests the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to a business) and the business model canvas.

“I also covered market research and cash flow. I chose to do this in my home community because there isn’t much knowledge on how to run a business, so I wanted to take this action to help my neighbours become entrepreneurs.”

Lydia’s bracelets encourage others to be the change

Lydia's bracelets sold on Etsy raised £60 for a number of charities
Lydia's bracelets sold on Etsy raised £60 for a number of charities

After volunteering in Nicaragua, Lydia knew she wanted to inspire others to make a positive difference. Using the bracelet-making skills she learnt in Nicaragua, she was inspired to start her own entrepreneurial venture back in the UK.

“I opened an Etsy store to sell 20 handmade bracelets which I learnt to make while on my placement in Nicaragua. I sold every bracelet for £3, which was donated to a charity of their choice, including UNICEF, Samaritans and Hope for Justice. They sold out in under a week, raising £60 for charity.

“The main idea behind these charity bracelets was not predominantly to fundraise, but to inspire and encourage the people now wearing the bracelets that they made a difference, and so that they can be reminded of the ongoing importance of making a change.”

This article originally appeared on the Raleigh blog.

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ICS is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) which leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty.

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