Whether or not we have our own businesses, we all collaborate with others on a regular basis. This is even more true around Christmas, as family, friends and colleagues all gather to celebrate. No one wants to see or be the one family member to put up all the decorations, prepare all the food and prepare any events or traditions, and besides, it’s just more fun when we work together! And of course, it’s harder to enjoy the party when everything was finished at the last minute. However, collaboration during Christmas (or Chanukah, Yule and others) can also extend beyond these things and into our community as a whole.
One way to support our communities, whether we see it as our city, state or even country, is by supporting local businesses. This is especially relevant during the Christmas period, when we are busy buying presents for others. When we only buy from large, multi-national companies, can we be sure that jobs, with fair payment and conditions, are generated, or that products are environmentally responsible? Here is something I found interesting: from 2006 to 2011, startups (businesses two years old or less) created 1.4 million jobs in Australia, while other businesses collectively shed 400,000 jobs (Australian Innovation System Report). So supporting local, small businesses means supporting jobs for the everyday Australian. On the other hand, many social enterprises support the economic empowerment of people in impoverished regions of the world, who would otherwise have poor or no employment opportunities. Others, like Moeloco, provide tools for empowerment, such as school-appropriate shoes, through a portion of sales.
Here is a list of other social enterprises you might be interested in when doing your Christmas shopping:
The Rushing Hour: The Rushing Hour offers minimalist, modern women’s clothing with a twist: every sale means that a girl can go to school for a month.
Seven Women: Seven Women aims to economically and socially empower disadvantaged and disabled women in Nepal with employment and skills training. Clothing, accessories and children’s toys are some of the products sold.
–SisterWorks: SisterWorks is a social enterprise operating from Melbourne, which supports refugee and migrant women in setting up their own businesses. Products made and sold by the women include jewellery, bags and homewares.
Angkor Flowers: Based in Sydney, Angkor Flowers is a floristry business offering both fresh and artificial flower arrangements, which provides economic empowerment for South East Asian migrant women.
Atma Cycles: Maybe one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to get active, and cycling is a great way to get fit! When you buy a bicycle from Atma, some of the money goes to providing bicycles to schoolgirls in India, which improves school attendance.
Sacred by Design: While a range of socially and environmentally responsible products are sold, Sacred by Design’s stand-out line is LOVEBomb Jewellery. Made from scraps of bombs once dropped in Laos by local artisans, some proceeds from the sales of this jewellery also fund education and sanitation projects.
Free Spirit: Looking for some beautiful beachwear? Free Spirit has T-shirts and tank tops for both men and women, with each shirt sold donating 3 months’ worth of educational supplies through the HOPE Foundation.
Freedom Scrub: Also working through the HOPE Foundation, some proceeds from the sales of these body scrubs provide funds for medical care in the HOPE Foundation Hospital. Additionally, ingredients in the coffee scrub are produced ethically and sales help to rehabilitate former Rwandan child soldiers and women living in poverty.
Elke and Ark: Or maybe you want something very practical, like bed linen. Elke & Ark have a range of bed sheets and quilt covers made from organic cotton, which pay living wages and fund girls’ education.
Socielle: Socielle is a bit different from the others listed here. While all gifts are sourced from artisans who produce handmade, eco-friendly, ethical and socially responsible items, you can choose which charity is supported by 10% of the sale price.
Lets say happy shopping,