Helping those who live in poverty is commonly phrased in terms such as “caring for the poor”, and for good reason. Many of us, when we see the devastating effects of poverty, just want to make everything better for the people affected. This may be beneficial, even lifesaving, in the short-term, but the best long-term way to assist the poor is often to help them help themselves by economic empowerment. One example I would like to share with you is the Greyston Bakery in New York.

Greyston Bakery: Economic Empowerment in Action

Dion Drew had spent nine months since his release from prison trying his best to find honest work. Life in the drug trade had landed him behind bars for four years, and leery employers turned him down every time he applied for a job. The prospect of spending his life unemployed would have sent him back to the drug trade – if it weren’t for Greyston Bakery. Dion Drew put his name on the company’s applicant list, which embraces a model of “open hiring”. The only requirement an employee needs is to be of legal working age; experience, background or other factors are not considered. After several days, Drew received a “beautiful call”, offering him a job, and describes his life since then as “glorious”. Now in a management role, he shares his story of transformation here.

Greyston bakery produces 35,000 pounds of brownies every day, among other products, to support a model illustrated by a spokesperson as “we bake brownies to hire people.” Ex-convicts, the homeless, long-term unemployed and veterans all get the opportunity to provide for themselves once more. To keep this model working in practice, the bakery also includes add-on services to employees, such as on-site day care. Sunitha Malieckal, the bakery’s account manager, said that she “wouldn’t have been able to come back to work” without it. Drew agrees, stating that “you’re changing a person’s life by helping them get a job”. The US government may implement a welfare system for the unemployed, but there is nothing like economic empowerment – the ability to provide for yourself.

How Moeloco and HOPE Create Opportunities

You may be familiar with Moeloco’s star product – our flip flops – and how each pair sold donates one pair of school shoes to a child going barefoot. This indirectly promotes economic empowerment by allowing them to attend school, but there are also direct ways that we support this cause. Mothers who sew our sari bags can access affordable loans to start their own businesses through our charity partner, The HOPE Foundation, helping them to escape poverty in their own way. HOPE runs a vocational training institute for women and young people with little access to educational and economic opportunities. Training courses, which include tailoring, hospitality and computer skills, provide work placement opportunities and ensure participants can earn a wage. Additionally, our partnership with LOCWOM increases the ability of women in Nepal to earn their own living, by bringing their fair trade kaftans to a wider audience.

At Moeloco, we don’t just want to fight poverty. We want to find the most effective ways of making it history, ways that not only last, but are rewarding to our beneficiaries too! Economic empowerment allows people to support themselves, and boosts their mental and emotional wellbeing because of their increased independence. It’s not only the facts and figures that motivate us, but the smiles on their faces. If you would like to purchase any of the products mentioned above, click here.

Until next time,

Dream crazy,

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