We call Acholi Beads a ‘socially proactive’ business. Most people have heard of socially conscious businesses. They take steps to ensure that, as they do business, they don’t hurt people or the environment. For example, socially conscious businesses don’t use sweatshop labor because it is demeaning, dangerous, and keeps workers in poverty.
Our socially proactive business is socially conscious, and takes things a step further. For instance, our beads are made from paper that is being discarded by printers in Uganda, the East African country where they are made. By using this paper productively we cut down on waste and help curb deforestation. This is socially conscious.
And our workers are far from sweatshop laborers. They work from their homes on their own time to make our products. And we pay them more than their asking price, because we know their prices are tailored to a local market where poverty is status quo. This is socially conscious.
But we also go the extra mile. Instead of just hiring any Ugandan, we sought out refugees from northern Uganda, where a terrible war has ravaged the population for over 20 years. These people from the Acholi tribe fled to Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, where they could only find refuge in a hillside slum, now called Acholi Quarters. Work is scarce in Kampala, especially for those from the Acholi region, so poverty is a constant and unwelcome companion in the slum.
We asked around Acholi Quarters to find out who was in dire need of steady income and selected 10 people – nine women and one man – to make our beads. That is socially proactive.
And we’re just getting started. As we grow we are planning to add more bead makers to our project. And since these people are receiving a generous income, some for the first time in their lives, we are planning to give them training on how to manage their finances, and how to begin personal entrepreneurial projects. Our goal is not just to run a good business, our goal is to see these people succeed. That is socially proactive.
And we’re not stopping there. We are using Acholi Beads to spread the story of the Acholi people all over America, and hopefully the world. Through the sale of beads people are introduced to the conflict in northern Uganda, and some get involved in solving it. That’s why our website feature a host of hand-selected resources for learning about and engaging with the issues surrounding the 20 year war. We want this business to make a larger contribution than pretty jewelry and a good income. We are working to change the world. That is socially proactive.