Monday, August 31, 2009

What’s having a Life Anyway?

By Marita Greenidge

If you don’t go to bars or parties on the weekend guess what, you don’t have a life! At least that’s what television teaches you. Essentially having a life boils down to the presence of certain activities in your life – drinking alcohol and partying.

I too got trapped in this, joking with friends that I “didn’t have a life” when I stopped bar hopping and partying.

But hey what’s having a life anyway? To me having a life is doing the activities you love. I realized that heading out to party on the weekends wasn’t really that exciting anymore. Actually halfway through the night I’d be drained and bored (how’s that for proof of getting old? Well it wasn’t that I couldn’t keep up; it’s really that things that don’t excite me drain the life out of me.

I’d rather be having a quiet dinner with a few close friends or reading/watching something about marketing. Instead of going to loud beach parties, I’d rather spend quiet days at the beach listening to waves and reading a magazine/book. Instead of going to bed at 6 am after a crazy night on the town, I’d rather be getting up at 6 am to head to a hike.

Your definition of life is whatever you make it. It’s whatever you do that makes your existence rich. If hiking, photography, dancing, singing, playing a sport, reading, spending time with your family etcetera are the things that excite you most, if they are present in your life, then you most certainly have a life.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using Entrepreneurship to Combat Global Poverty

By Marita Greenidge

"Multiply the population of the US by three. That’s how many people around the world live on about a dollar a day.

Do it again and now you have the number closer to $2. About forty percent of the world lives on $2 or less a day.

What’s that like? What happens to you when you have two dollars a day to live on. It’s almost impossible to imagine. I mean, $2 is the rent on your apartment for about 45 minutes. $2 buys you one bite of lunch at a local restaurant...

And yet, two billion people survive on that sort of income. "

Those are the opening lines from Seth Godin's post last week Friday. You should definitely read the entire post here. Godin speaks about why entrepreneurship is so important to social and economic development. The focus eventually turns to the Acumen Fund, a non-profit Seth will be working with. I particularly like the Acumen Fund because they seem to share our ideals here at KVI. Here's an explanation of what they do:

"Acumen Fund is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. We seek to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor. Our investments focus on delivering affordable, critical goods and services – like health, water, housing and energy – through innovative, market-oriented approaches." - Acumen Fund Wesbite

So the idea is that charity alone is not the answer because it creates dependency. However using charity and investing in projects that have the potential to offer the world's disadvantaged ways to support themselves negates the need for continual charitable donations. This is very important because it means that if charitable dollars run out, persons aren't instataneously transported back to poverty. Donations become more like investments than hand-outs.

This is why we at KVI believe in Fair Trade and helping our artisans find marketable solutions to their economic problems. We are facilitators giving artisans connections to distribution channels they wouldn't normally have so that they can chart their own entrepreneurial course.

Of course this brings into question what happens when we aren't there to facilitate but that's a discussion for another post when we'll talk about why succession planning is so important.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Videos for Social Good

By Marita Greenidge

I was doing my daily reading of Mashable and I came across this post on the top 10 videos for social good. They are all pretty interesting.

The groups vary from those supporting environmental health to those trying to lift people out of poverty. Have a watch; I really like the last one which is an interactive video where a young person has to choose his path. Each path can lead to various outcomes. It clearly shows how the small choices you make in life can lead to serious consequences. Good work by the Metropolitan Police Service of London.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Political unrest in Honduras and unfortunate economic situation in Kenya affecting our Suppliers

By Glenn & Rebecca Fadner

July was another busy month with both retail and wholesale shows. We had a few "drenchings" (in both Fair Haven and Geneseo), quick turn-arounds between shows, and as much time in hotels as at home! We're glad that the pace is a bit "lighter" in August, which will give us an opportunity to catch up a bit with things that have gotten set to the side (including yard work).

On a more somber note, I want to update you on how two of our artisans are being impacted by current events.

Honduras: Hopefully you have been following (at least to SOME level) the political crisis unfolding in Honduras. I can't tell you how the crisis in Tegucigalpa is affecting people "on the street" in the Gulf Coast city of Trujillo, but anytime there is political unrest in a country where tourism is a significant part of the economy, there's bound to be a decrease in tourist traffic. (This is a link to an annoucement by the US embassy discouraging travel to Honduras).

So even if things start picking up in the global economy, we can expect that it will be quite some time before tourist dollars start flowing freely in Trujillo. That makes our supplier Maria, and the others at the Made In Honduras co-operative, significantly dependant on what we (and others) sell outside the country.

Kenya: Just this week I received an email from Eunice Kasisi, who makes our "marbled" and bamboo jewelry. (Click this link for more about Eunice.) Things are very difficult in Kenya. On top of the political crisis there in 2008, the global recession, and the seventh year of drought, it appears that people in both government and business have been "manipulating" the price of food staples like maize for their own profit.

Food has become outrageously expensive for the poor of Kenya, with the result that there is nothing left over for other necessities of life. Eunice is the caregiver for her brother's two children since he passed away. Last week they were "chased from school" because she couldn't pay the school fees. (There are fees even for "public" school in Kenya.) She was asking if we have any business for her, and I had to tell her that at this point, we simply don't need any additional jewelry.

We're not telling you these stories to discourage you or to stir up feelings of guilt. That's not what we're about. But we DO want to encourage you to consider KVI and other Fair Trade businesses when you do need to make a purchase. And encourage your friends to visit us and other Fair Trade e-tailers. All of us thank you!

We wish all of you a great month!

Honduran immigrants speak about recent events in Honduras surrounding President Zelaya.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

It’s Friendship Day People…so who are your friends again?

By Marita Greenidge

Can you do it? Can you really walk hand-in-hand with someone who’s not going where you want to go? At some point along the journey someone’s going to have to let go or both your journeys will come to a screeching halt.
Pretty simple concept…let’s make it even simpler. You are kind enough to give your friend a ride to the supermarket. You buy all your groceries and are ready to head back home. If both of you live at the same house then great, you return home together. If you don’t, you have to drop that friend off. If you decide you want to hang out with your friend a little more because you enjoy their company so much then you’re stuck at that friend’s house until you leave. Meanwhile your groceries are sitting in huge pile because you decided to linger and not go on to do your business. Your journey has halted and you haven’t reached your destination. The frozen food is getting warm and the hot food cold.

In life, who you surround yourself with has such a crazy impact on your life. It morphs your thinking because you become immersed in a way of life. If societal status and gathering ‘things’ are the ambitions of your friends, then you may slowly find that those become your ambitions as well. And we may not want to admit this but think about the way you speak…the words you use….those bits and pieces you pick up along the way. I never said the word “awesome” before I came to Rochester but now it’s ingrained in my vocabulary….a little gift from my classmates who said it so frequently. I’ve passed on “altrighty” to my roommate. You see how this works. These things solely creep up on us and we don’t realize until it’s ingrained.

You want great habits and ways of thinking to seep into you. You want peer pressure to have a useful purpose like encouraging you never to cheat on your spouse or to volunteer to tutor young kids or adults. You don’t want it telling you to buy the latest non-essential object as the only way to feel worthy.

You do this by surrounding yourself with the right kind of people, the ones who are going to the same place you are. It’s the reason in your career you’re encouraged to join associations related to your fields. You get all the good info on the recent developments in your industry and a group of people that can help if you get stuck in a problem.

It’s easy to see this applied to a career so why is it so difficult to apply to our lives?