It isn’t very often that we have an opportunity to make the world a better place with our purchasing decisions, but we have found 3 companies that are enabling us to do just that. In the spirit of our Boundless Core Value “Do the Right Thing” we are highlighting companies and products that give back to the community and the Earth. These product lines deliver Brand Love in a unique and lasting way and are the perfect way to show that your brand cares about sustainability and the welfare of others.
In part 1 of 3 in our series, Promotions with a Purpose, we speak with Zane, the founder of Ubuntu, a partner of Zazzle that produces hand-made products and donates the proceeds to health and education programs in Kenya. The Ubuntu line features an array of products, many of which can be customized to include your brand, a name personalization or even an inspirational message. From hand-made tote bags to customized bracelets, these products truly embody the spirit of what we call Brand Love.
Just over a decade ago I purchased a one-way ticket to Kenya. I had no idea when I got on that plane just how much the people of Kenya would change my life and what that change would create for many others. I knew very little about Africa then and about the world of international development. I was just a kid from Texas recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a heart on fire wanting to know more about my purpose in life.
I am so grateful that I did jump on that plane, despite the advice of so many who kept telling me to go to medical school first and then go help the people in Africa. I am thankful that I was too ignorant or stubborn or whatever it was to get on that plane. As a result I quickly realized it wasn’t about my helping the people of Africa, or about the people of Africa helping me, but about us learning how to empower one another to create something powerful for the world.
Ubuntu is a South African word that means ‘I am because we are’, and it has been the core of our organization from the beginning. It is all about interconnectedness and meaningful relationships, and it’s the perfect word to unite our model for impact.
My journey inspired me to create Ubuntu Made, a line of one-of-a-kind customizable products, hand crafted in the heart of Kenya, providing job opportunities and economic growth to communities in the Maai Maihu region. Included in the current collection are beautiful leather and canvas tote bags, hand-beaded clutches and bracelets, and dog collars. Many of these products let you personalize with your logo or a message, making the line a unique gift idea.
The first of these products was the Beaded LOVE Bracelet. This bracelet was created to communicate the unity and connectivity between all people through the intricate beading by women of the Maasai Tribe, carefully spelling out the word “LOVE”. From the production of the LOVE Bracelet, Ubuntu Made has grown to an array of over 10 customizable products, and continues to grow, with plans to launch a new collection of products in spring of 2017.
Our products give back to health and education programs in Kenya, creating jobs and providing impact in communities on the other side of the world. The Ubuntu model creates a new cycle of livelihood between social business and non-profit growth and empowers communities through job creation. The earned and charitable income from Ubuntu Enterprise feeds directly into the well-being of our social impact initiatives. As we’ve been hard at work growing our business so too has Ubuntu friendships grown with partners like (RED), Jimmy Kimmel and Zazzle.
It is through collaborations such as these that I think the meaning of Ubuntu is most powerfully observed and felt. Our makers in Kenya are now earning a reliable living wage and have something productive to do with their time each week as a meaningful community. We’ve had Zazzle team members as well as staff from the Jimmy Kimmel show travel to Kenya with us. While there they’ve witnessed firsthand the impact they are helping create in real and tangible ways. And as the message spreads, we are able to give back more and more.
These impactful relationships end up taking a life of their own like what is happening this Holiday season with our collaboration with (RED) on World AIDS Day. The Ubuntu Made line enables you to purchase with a purpose and make the world a better place by doing so. It’s wild to watch a seed planted so many years ago by buying a one-way ticket turn into a cause that so many people are passionate about.
I am because we are…how true this is for all of us. We’re all in this together!
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