Blog

Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Like many first-time moms, when I went into labor last year, I was really scared about how painful the delivery would be and whether anything would go wrong with me or my baby girl. And even now, though Aleena is very healthy, I often double-check to make sure she’s still breathing when she’s asleep.

These fears are real to me, but they seem so trivial compared to the fears that mothers in developing countries face: Will they survive childbirth? Will their babies survive? Will they be able to give them clean water and healthy food? What about medicine if they get sick? Can they afford to send them to school? All of them, or just the boys?

Medical complications from pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for women around the world. Even in India, which has made great strides in the past generation, the maternal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization – even worse than in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. But there’s hope: When I visited a Kolkata slum a few years ago, I met with a grateful woman and baby who had received proper prenatal care and a safe delivery through Calcutta Kids. Thanks to the funding this nonprofit gets from our Jolkona donors and other supporters, this woman and thousands of others in her community no longer live in fear of dying in childbirth, or that their children won’t live past their fifth birthdays.

Some people argue that supporting efforts to improve maternal and child healthcare in slums and developing countries only exacerbates overpopulation. But, as Melinda Gates noted in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, the data actually show that when more children survive, women opt to have fewer babies – slowing population growth and improving education and empowerment opportunities per family.

 In addition to health issues, the world’s women and girls continue to lag behind in education and employment. Improving these measures is a win-win-win for the women, their families and their communities. Researchers have confirmed that when women and girls earn money, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families (compared to only 30-40 percent for men) – a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty in a single generation.  

Last Day to Give to Girls

These stories and statistics inspire me during Jolkona’s annual Give to Girls campaign, combined with March as Women’s History Month. This year, we focused on crowdfunding in three categories where our growing pool of small donations can have the greatest collective impact: maternal health, education, and empowerment. The 10 projects we chose will each provide proofs for every donation, so that even small donors feel confident that they can make a difference.

It always amazes me how little it costs to make a life-changing difference for young woman. For just $30, we can train a woman farmer in Sudan. For $60, we can educate a girl in Afghanistan for one year. For $160, we can provide prenatal care to a mother in Guatemala.

All it takes is a small donation to change lives – starting with one girl, her family, her village, and the world. We need to invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today.

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I got the news on a Thursday afternoon, in February 2012. Our sales team had completed a stellar quarter at Google, and the email notified me that I could expect a handsome bonus in a few weeks time.

As my mind raced with ways I could use the extra money,  I thought about my recent volunteer expedition to South America, with Jolkona. I’d been meaning to do something positive once I got back to the U.S.; perhaps a donation was a good place to start. I called up my good friend, Jolkona CEO Nadia Mahmud, and told her I wanted to make a donation benefiting women and girls. Nadia said, ”Well, rather than a donation, how about making a sponsorship?”

I’d never done something like this before; weren’t sponsors supposed to be big organizations or corporations, and not random tech employees like myself? But together, Nadia and I crafted a plan for Jolkona’s 2nd Annual Give to Girls campaign. I’d match donations, dollar for dollar, to a handful of charities that Jolkona works with — and we decided to approach the women’s network at my office to come on board as a key marketing partner.

My initial thought was to not mention my individual sponsorship in our marketing campaign, keeping it anonymous . The head of our women’s committee thought this was ridiculous. “Absolutely not! We’ll tape a video of you talking about the campaign, and you need to put your name on this.” I was reluctant, but the personal touch seemed to work.  Our community banded together, and the donations came in day by day. I received countless emails from co-workers and friends excited to support our efforts. And one particularly generous coworker of mine, Jessan Hutchison-Quillian, was moved to join me halfway through the campaign as a sponsor.

I never imagined we’d raise $25,000 for girls & women in 2012, and I’m so happy Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign is now in its fourth year.

Through my Give to Girls sponsorship, I learned a couple of powerful lessons. First, I witnessed the power of the crowd rather than the individual — we can truly amplify our impact when we give together. Second, I experienced how people around you will rise to the occasion when you share your personal passion for something. Jessan jumping in as a co-sponsor was an unexpected and wonderful example.

During these last few days of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to make a meaningful donation to Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon with other Jolkona volunteers during our 2012 expedition to Rio, Brazil.

Zanoon Nissar leads various giving initiatives at Google. Since 2010, she has volunteered with Jolkona, and has spent six weeks traveling/blogging through South America & South East Asia as part of their Expeditions.

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When I was fresh out of college and teaching in Singapore, I spent a whole day on MRT subways and buses all over the country — in search of a women’s basketball. I found myself trying to explain to young men and women, in both English and Mandarin, what a “women’s basketball” was… Anyway, I couldn’t find one. Eventually, I discovered that although hundreds of boys’ secondary school basketball teams participated in Singapore’s interscholastic league, only about 30 girls’ teams did. That was when I really, really realized how much Title IX had done for girls in the United States —and how lucky we are to be gaining more gender equality with every generation.

After more travels, including teaching in Honduras and backpacking through Central America, I came to Seattle and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As Jolkona’s newest Communications Intern, I’m thrilled to use my love of writing and global development to raise awareness for social change, to bring to the page what I have witnessed abroad and turn it into action.

Jolkona provides young professionals and backpackers like me on limited budgets a platform to donate and, drop by drop, make every single dollar matter — whether it’s in providing children in Mexico with fresh producesupporting safe births for women in Palestine, or creating jobs for silk weavers in India.

By joining the Jolkona team, I will no longer be just another tourist who has passed by; my experiences can continue contributing to a worthy cause. I’m excited to work with a group of like-minded volunteers who are committed to making a difference, one day, one dollar, one drop at a time.

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And finally, as an advocate for women’s rights, I’m excited to be joining Jolkona during its annual Give to Girls campaign — supporting 10 nonprofit projects that help women and girls locally and globally. Join us!

Bea Chang received her MFA in fiction from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her stories and essays have appeared in Colere: A Journal of Cultural Exploration, Toasted Cheese, and Memoir Journal. Since 2007, she has lived in and backpacked through 50 countries. 

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A self-professed tech geek, I’m routinely amazed at the power I hold in my hands: smartphones, tablets, laptops, the latest new gadget. A shocking statistic from the United Nations made headlines last year: more people now have access to cell phones than to toilets. Increasingly, our world is run by technology and the people who know how to wield it.

That’s why Jolkona’s Give to Girls project to support homeless women by teaching technology and life skills resonates with me. Housing and homelessness — especially in the Seattle area — are pressing issues, as rent and property values rise higher than low-skills workers can afford.  In my experience, there is no single narrative for homeless women and no negative stereotype that holds true. There are many paths to homelessness: foreclosure, domestic abuse, layoffs, medical expenses. However these women got there, their energy and time is now focused on day-to-day survival.

But what if you could help put the power back in the hands of women who are experiencing homelessness?  What if you could take the focus away from short-term survival and give women the ability to build marketable skills, allowing them to look to their futures?

I support women’s projects like this because I believe in empowering women to dream, plan, and achieve. I believe that women with technology can change the world.  Technology is the foundation of many careers and jobs.  It is access to information and resources. It is having a platform to voice one’s opinion and engage with other people. Technology is power.

I invite you to join me in supporting the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of the other partners in Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month.

Genevieve Venable works in communications and community outreach for Seattle University’s Center for Service and Community Engagement.  She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree.  

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As we enter the final week of our annual Give to Girls campaign, in honor of Women’s History Month, I asked the ladies of Jolkona, “Which woman inspires you?” The responses reveal a spectrum of diverse role models, locally and globally:

I’m reminded of a quote by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and a personal source of hope and inspiration: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

I ask you to take a moment to think about a woman or girl you admire. How does she inspire you? When you Give to Girls, you are investing in the next generation of inspirational women, creating a global ripple effect of hope. Please Give to Girls today!

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Why do we give to girls? Because we must, if we want to reduce violence, promote equality, build stronger economies and improve a plethora of other crucial development measures locally and globally.

Halfway into our annual Give to Girls campaign, which highlights education, maternal health and empowerment projects this year, I’ve asked the ladies at Jolkona HQ: “Why should we give to girls?” The responses vary, but all come down to making the world a better place for our generation, and a brighter place for the next generation:

So we ask you today: what compels you to give to girls? Let us know in the Comments section, and through our social media channels.

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Everyone knows that educating girls improves their career opportunities. But did you also know that educating girls reduces child mortality and kickstarts developing countries?

The Global Education Fund reports that each year that a girl spends in secondary school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent. An educated girl invests 90 percent of her income in her family and community. When a mother has received a basic education, her children are 40 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. When looking at the 50 million girls that currently live in poverty, just imagine the impact that educating these girls could have on the world!

Through Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month, you can support education projects in Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal. For these three countries, which have some of the lowest GDPs and literacy rates, improving education for girls is absolutely essential.

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Improve Female Literacy in Afghanistan

Only 11 to 13 percent of girls and women in Afghanistan are literate, due the distances to travel to schools, caring for infants, and the social and cultural taboos related to attending co-ed schools, having contact with male teachers, and female education in general. But educating and empowering Afghanistan’s women is essential to lifting the country out of decades of war.

Barakat, Jolkona’s nonprofit partner on the ground, has an innovative curriculum that enables girls and women to become literate in a safe environment: all-female classes and teachers, community spaces, no restrictions on age or bringing babies to class. Barakat already engages 3,000 girls and women with their literacy programs. A Give to Girls gift of $60 will provide a Lower Level Literacy Education for one girl. 

Educate Girls in Liberia

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s school-aged children are not in school, including the most vulnerable girls in the country: orphans, homeless children, sex workers, and children of single parents. Jolkona’s nonprofit partner More Than Me believes that these low rates of education are directly related to the low life expectancy and other health problems Liberians face.

MTM’s program provides vulnerable girls in Liberia the opportunity to go to school, while also learning about nutrition, disease prevention and vaccination — giving them the tools they need to lead fuller, healthier lives. A donation of just $25 will provide two girls with school supplies, and $100 will provide a whole semester of education.

Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls

Struggling with extreme poverty, many families in Western Nepal take their daughters out of school and sell them into bonded service, known as Kamlari. The Nepal Youth Foundation works to rescue these girls by returning them to their family, helping the family develop another source of income, and prevent future trafficking through education.

NYF has rescued and educated more than 10,000 girls since its inception in 1990, and with your help, they can help even more. A gift of $100 will rescue one Nepali girl. Even just $5 can make a huge difference. 

Here at Jolkona, we are excited to support women’s education this month, since so many other causes hinge on the education and professional success of girls. Join us, and Give to Girls today.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, I joined other nonprofit communicators at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Friday to discuss ways we could use social media to promote women’s health initiatives, including PATH’s redesigned female condom, self-administered contraceptive shots (see photo — so tiny!) and low-tech cervical and breast cancer screenings.

This #GatesSocial also got me thinking about more ways to inform and engage donors for Jolkona’s 4th annual Give to Girls campaign, which is crowdfunding for 10 projects that save lives, educate and empower women locally and globally. What would inspire you? We’d love to produce something like the Girl Effect video:

Stay tuned for some new Jolkona media for this year’s #Give2Girls. In the meantime, check out the traditional press release about the campaign.

SEATTLE – Launched on International Women’s Day (March 8) and continuing through Women’s History Month, Jolkona’s 4thannual Give to Girls campaign is crowdfunding for 10 innovative projects to lift up women and girls in the United States and strategic regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

“We inspire the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today,” says Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona co-founder and CEO. “Empowering women is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty around the world. Invest in a healthy and educated girl today, and she will be able to reinvest in her family, her community, and our world tomorrow.”

From now through March 31, donors can choose among nine high-impact projects related to education, maternal health and empowerment. Starting at the $5 level, the options range from supporting job training for homeless women in Seattle topromoting female literacy in Afghanistan to funding counseling services for rape survivors in Haiti.

The bonus project will be selected by members of Jolkona’s monthly Give Together program: starting at the $10 level, participants join a private Facebook group to review proposals from nonprofit partners and determine which one should be awarded the community’s collective grant. For this campaign, Give Together is also accepting one-time donations, in addition to monthly subscriptions.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, Jolkona is launching our 4th annual Give to Girls campaign. All month long, we will bring you opportunities to help girls and women in nine countries.

By supporting women’s education, health and empowerment, we can create sustainable economic development and reduce poverty locally and globally. By working with Jolkona and our Give to Girls partners, you can help, too — starting with just $5. As U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states:

This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Welcome to Give to Girls 2014! This year’s projects:

Education

Maternal Health

Empowerment

Give Together Bonus

Starting at $10, you can also Give Together — contributing to a collective grant and helping us choose which project related to women and girls gets the community’s pool of donations this month.

With your support in these three key areas, not only will more women have social and economic opportunities, but the whole world will benefit from a ripple effect of change. Thank you for your support!

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It’s hard to believe that March is already here again, but at Jolkona we’re certainly excited about International Women’s Day on March 8. This year will be our 4th annual Give2Girls campaign, raising money to improve the lives of women and girls all over the world during Women’s History Month.

As UN Women states, “Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

Our preparations include reviewing the past three campaigns, celebrating we have collectively accomplished with the $40,000 raised, and all that is still left to do as we work to build greater gender equality and improving health, education and opportunity for women and girls locally and globally:

Jolkona’s Give2Girls 2013 raised over $5,000 through our generous donors and a partnership with the Seattle International Foundation. Every dollar went to saving lives and improving education, health and sanitation for women and girls in more than a dozen countries, from the United States to Iraq to Nepal. Through out last year’s campaign, we also worked to bring awareness to many issues that impact women’s equality, such as access to clean water and higher education.

Our Give2Girls 2012 raised $25,000, with a big boost from Women at Google and our champions Zanoon Nissar and Jessan Hutchison-Quillian. And the inaugural Give2Girls campaign raised $10,000!

While looking forward to what we can accomplish this year, you can watch a live commemoration of the event on March 7th here, and stay tuned for our official campaign information next week. You can also get started on browsing our projects related to women and girls.

We’re excited and grateful to spend a fourth Women’s History Month working with you to help improve the lives of women and girls. Thank you for your support!

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Jolkona Staff - 2010

Jolkona’s Fearless Females – 2010

In Jolkona’s first five years, we’ve collected more than $700,000 for nonprofit partners locally and globally. More than $40,000 has come just through Give2Girls, a campaign we run every March to specifically support causes for women and girls. And we’ve raised more than $1,200 so far this month through our Give Together featured cause of Women & Girls, supporting projects in Seattle, Nepal and Sudan.

Our work for women and girls is much bigger than the occasional fundraising theme, however. One way or another, most of our partners empower women and girls. Some literally save lives; others strive to make those lives worth living. As Jolkona blogger Madison Abshire noted at the beginning of this month: “The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change… Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.”

We’ve had dozens of interesting posts here on the Jolkona Blog about how donors and volunteers can make a big difference for the world’s women and girls. Three blasts from the past:

Double Your Dollars

This month, we have matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation to amplify donations to Jolkona partner projects related to women and girls. This offer will double the first $1,500 given to our Give Together and Give Direct projects for women/girls. Which one inspires you to give? 

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Last month, Jolkona held its third annual Give2Girls Campaign, in honor of International Women’s Day, and Women’s History month. We partnered with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF), with the goal of empowering, educating, and improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. Throughout March, SIF matched each donation to one of the 30+ projects that impacted women, up to $250 per donation. This was amazingly successful, and the campaign was fully funded, making over $5000 in just around three weeks!

The Give2Girls campaign had a truly global impact, affecting the lives of women all over the world. From $100 in Haiti, to $600 here in the U.S, to over $1600 in Nepal, each dollar helped to improve health and sanitation, and education. Here are some of the impacts that your generosity accomplished:

  • 1 emergency blood transfusion provided in Palestine
  • 2 technology classes provided in United States
  • 9 girls received education support in Nepal
  • 4 weeks of food provided in Afghanistan
  • 4 women saved from honor killing in Iraq
  • 16 months of oral contraceptives provided in Nepal
  • 10 health kits provided in Somalia
  • 30 books provided in Myanmar
  • 40 people sponsored to a workshop in Kenya
  • 7 women received education in Afghanistan
  • 2 pre-natal examinations provided in Nepal
  • 2 hygiene kits provided in Haiti
  • 2 life-skill classes sponsored in United States
  • 2 “safe birth” kits provided in Palestine
  • 2 stoves provided in Costa Rica
  • 16 girls received school supplies in Liberia
  • 2 weeks of stipend provided in United States
  • 12 girls rescued from servitude in Nepal
  • 2 jobs created in India
  • 2 postpartum classes provided in Japan
  • 2 children received dental care in Bolivia
  • 2 business literacy classes provided in Ghana
  • 6 school girls received uniforms in Liberia
  • 100 students received learning materials in Myanmar
  • 4 women received bio-intensive farming training in Kenya
  • 1 emergency medical kit provided in Palestine
  • 2 uniforms provided in Nepal

We also featured interesting projects and organizations that made supporting and empowering women the center of their work.

  • We featured MADRE, an organization that addresses the immediate needs of women in crisis. In conjunction with Give2Girls, 2 safe birth kits, and 1 emergency medical kit were provided in Palestine, and 4 women in Iraq were saved from honor killing.
  • We also featured the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation’s project of funding higher education for women in Nepal. Last month, 9 Nepali girls received educational support.
  • In addition, we talked about iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program, which brings women grassroots leaders to Seattle for leadership training. 2 weeks of stipend were provided through Give2Girls.

Even though March is over, you can still take the opportunity to donate to a project that supports women. Small donations can have a huge impact in the lives of women and on their communities, as they tend to reinvest 90% of the funding they receive. Through Lumana, you can fund a woman entrepreneur in Ghana with working capital, with a donation of $120 , or you can donate $50 dollars to provide a woman in Nicaragua with a bag of seeds, so she can feed her family . It is never too late to empower woman, as many face adversity every day.

The 3rd Annual Give2Girls Campaign was quickly and successfully funded through your support, enthusiasm, and generosity. With your help, Give2Girls 2014 can be just as successful. Thank You!

You can also help spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter, and Pinterest.

Is a leader strongest on her own, or as part of a global community? Can you yourself produce the greatest good by sending information and resources one way, or is there much more to be gained through collaboration, and partnership? As you invest in providing training and vital networking to a woman already changing her local community, what can you learn from such an inspiring person?

One of the central themes of the Give2Girls campaign is that investing in women makes an incredible difference, as, on average, they return 90% to their families, children, and community. There are so many projects that positively impact women throughout the world. iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program takes an innovative approach to that idea, by empowering local women, and giving them the tools they need to be local and global leaders.

The mission of iLEAP is to create global transformation through inspiring and engaging social leaders across the world. With a network of non-profits, business, universities, and other associations linking the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, their training programs aim to collaborate with leaders, create regional networks, and international partnerships. The programs emphasize hands on learning so participants can work directly with the leaders in their field. They connect people in a range of sectors, ranging from global health, and human rights to education and sustainable agriculture.

The Program

As part of the International Fellowship Program, 10 to 15 Women grassroots leaders from across Asia, Latin America, and Africa are selected from a highly competitive pool to come to Seattle, WA, and attend a rigorous and comprehensive 8-week leadership training program.

  • The training includes courses on topics like communication, technology and management.
  • Helps them to build a network of local businesses and NGOs and other development organizations in their area of interest.
  • Women learn about the interactions between NGOs, business and government agencies.
  • Whilst honing their skills through the program, the women also have the opportunity to become involved in Seattle’s community, and make personal connections.
  • They live with a home-stay family, attend events, and are sponsored by local organizations that work in the same area of interest so they can exchange ideas.

Why the program is important

Empowering women as leaders is vital to the UN Millennium Development goals of promoting gender equality, and encouraging global partnerships. Women bear the brunt of global poverty, due to gaps in income and education, as well as violence, and maternal mortality. Women leaders in developing countries are already taking steps to address these issues and lead the improvement in their communities. iLEAP’s fellowship provides these women with more in depth training and an international network of partners and mentors, so that they can continue their work more effectively, and with renewed inspiration.

The Give2Girls campaign is all about investing in girls and women, to create a better world tomorrow, and iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program is an incredible opportunity for determined and talented women grassroots leaders to network internationally, increase the impact of their work in their own communities, and become global citizens. Through amazing donations, Give2Girls has been fully funded, but a donation will still make an incredible difference. $100 provides the weekly stipend for a Fellow to stay in Seattle, and participate in the program. As a result, each graduate leaves with practical skills, and a global community of support. In turn, they contribute to sustainable social change.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest

 

We interviewed Awamaki, a partner that focuses helping women in Peru become economically sustainable through education and traditional crafts, as part of the Give2Girls campaign. They hope to educate the older girls of their weaving cooperatives to become future leaders through workshops that focus on skills like computer use, and to launch a Girls Leadership Program for 2014.

What’s the story behind Awamaki?

Awamaki was formed in early 2009, to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Seattle native, Kennedy Leavens and Peru native, Miguel Galdo, worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the Patacancha weaving cooperative for two years. When that organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. Awamaki grew rapidly its first few years. We started a health project (now independent), ran an afterschool program, and tried on a number of other hats as well. Awamaki now concentrates its work in economic empowerment, education, skills development, and sustainable community tourism.

How did you become connected with Jolkona?

I had heard of Jolkona through the UW Evans School Public Affairs, so when Nadia emailed me asking for information, I offered to come down to the office. Face-to-face meetings are so rare when you work internationally and your funders, partners and donors are spread out all over the globe.

Can you tell us more about your project’s background and why it started?

Our women’s cooperative project started in the hands of another organization, CATCCO, nearly 10 years ago. The project’s founders saw that the Quechua weaving tradition was being lost, so they offered to buy weavings from high school aged girls in order to encourage them to continue to weave and also give them support for their studies. Since then, our focus has shifted from mostly textile tradition revitalization — though that is still an important aim — to economic development through women’s access to economic opportunities and income. We have created a number of other projects towards that aim, including knitting, sewing and spinning cooperatives, as well as a homestay family association and a Spanish teachers cooperative to work with the many volunteers and travelers that come through the town where we are based. All our projects come from a need identified by the community and an opportunity identified by our international volunteers and staff, who have the ideas and expertise necessary to connect marginalized community members with the opportunities afforded by the international tourism markets.

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to engender?

We aim to give women the skills and market access they need to directly improve their incomes. We believe that income in the hands of women is the most effective way to lift rural families and communities out of poverty. We hope to create cooperatives that are models of self-sufficiency and financial sustainability, allowing women to be empowered agents of change, investing in the health, education and well being of their families and their communities.

We also aim to create cooperative business models that respect and revitalize local traditions and ways of life.

 So say I make a contribution to the project, can you explain a little further the impact that is achieved?

Awamaki’s projects allow the women we work with to access economic opportunities and earn a significant income that they then invest in their families and communities.

Our donors and supporters play a crucial role in our work. As a successful social enterprise, 78% of our funding comes from earned program income–sales of fair trade products, income from our sustainable tourism program, and volunteer and service travel program donations. This income covers our core operating expenses entirely.

Since we are devoted to working with the most marginalized women and communities in the area, however, the success of our programs–and the improved income and well-being of our women–rests on the extensive administrative support, skills trainings and capacity-building workshops we provide to the 150 women and families with whom we work. We leverage 100% of donations to provide this support and to fund program start-up and expansion, such as organizing and training new cooperatives that become self-sustaining after our initial investment

 We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

Graciela is 17. She lives in the remote high Andean community of Patacancha. When she was 13, she became pregnant. Girls don’t usually finish school in Patacancha; girls who are mothers definitely don’t finish school. Graciela’s parents were upset by her early pregnancy, but they enrolled her in Awamaki’s weaving cooperative program, then just starting. Income from the Awamaki project allowed her to support the child while she and the child’s father — only barely older than Graciela — finished school. Last year, he graduated from high school, and they moved into a one-room adobe home that they built near her parent’s home. Graciela continues to support her young family with income from the Awamaki project. Though only 17, she is one of our most skilled weavers. Her son, Rolando, is a healthy, energetic four-year-old.

In a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

Donations are the crucial link between the enterprise and the social part of what we do. We multiply your donation many times over by creating self-sustaining solutions to poverty.

Double your impact through the Give2Girls campaign, and donate to Awamaki today.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.

 

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