Thursday, March 11, 2010

OSU throws down, fair trade coffee-style

connecting uganda and columbus, ohio

Last Saturday I had a unique opportunity - to give a virtual opening lecture for an event. I opened up the Ohio State University SoBE Fair Trade Throwdown - via video Skype on the banks of the Nile River in Jinja. I spoke to students about my studies at Ohio State, and about taking the path less chosen and starting One Mango Tree.

Following the kick off conversation via Skype, the students - all members of OSU's Society of Business and Engineering - formed teams for the competition. The task was to role play as a Fair Trade coffee roaster and work together to develop a business model and packaging prototype to be pitched in front of a discerning panel of judges.

the winning team with their prize bags

The winners were a "team from Ethiopia," and they developed re-usable packaging covered in beautiful Ethiopian artwork. As a prize they received a One Mango Tree Weekender bag filled with all sorts of goodies.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

eyes on africa

Eye care in Africa is terribly difficult to find - and when it exists, it is extremely expensive. Sherry Grigsby discovered this problem on a safari trip to South Africa a few years ago. After realizing the amount of change that a $1 pair of reading specs could make, Sherry started Eyes on Africa - a non-profit that provides reading glasses free of charge for people who do not have access to eye care. Eyes on Africa provided more than 5,600 pairs of reading glasses across the continent last year. Next week they are visiting One Mango Tree, and our tailors will have the opportunity to try on specs - to see if a small vision adjustment can make a big difference for them in their work and lives.

Check out the video above to learn more about Eyes on Africa and the work they do across Africa. We're thrilled to welcome Sherry and her team to Gulu next week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

celebrate international women's day

Monday, March 8th is a public holiday here in Uganda - celebrating International Women's Day. The holiday is recognized globally, highlighting the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future.

In Gulu, we're celebrating the achievements of the One Mango Tree tailors - all of whom started out with no work, and who all now put their children in school, food on the table, and count their savings each day. We think that the change they've created in their lives by earning their own income is astounding, and we're eager to see more women in Northern Uganda working, growing and achieving. They've done it all not by receiving handouts, but by working hard and earning a respectable income - they are changing the dynamic in Northern Uganda, one woman-one family-one village at a time.

There's really no question that women have the power to change the world.

Have you seen The Girl Effect? Take a few moments next Monday to appreciate the amazing things women have done, and if you're a woman, think about your contribution. We'd love it if you shared Women's Day with us - help us create more jobs by shopping on our site - maybe buy a little something for a fabulous woman in your life? Or further the reach by helping our ladies send all of their kids to school with our Share the Love program.

Tell us how you'll celebrate International Women's Day - we'd love to hear from you.


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