I haven't seen @lauraclick lately...any chance you're going to SMMW14 this week? Would be fun to catch up!
There are a lot of pros and cons about being an independent business owner, but one of the pros is that, if you try to build your business right, you (mostly) get to pick your clients. And that’s really lovely.
Weren’t able to picture it, were you? Ha!
I don’t often write about clients, but today I will. And that’s because it’s such a great blend of profit and purpose, that you should know about it. It’s especially fitting today, as International Women’s Day is tomorrow (and you remember how much fun I had working with Oxfam America on their IWD initiative a few years ago, in fact, you should check out what they’re doing this year too!).
When $25 changes a life
What would you say if you were told that a modest loan—not a donation, mind you, but a real loan, where you’d get your money back—could completely change someone’s life?
And that in 2014 you could invest in micro businesses …
… started by former Indian sex workers, forced into prostitution because of a centuries-old practice …
… and help these hard-working women stand on their feet …
… for just $25?
I know what you’d say. “Where do I sign up?” Right?
My client is Milaap (“mill-aahp”). That means “unity” in Hindi, and it’s an organization that marries micro lending and crowd funding for lasting societal change.
I know you’ve heard of, perhaps even made loans via, micro lending platforms… platforms that let entrepreneurs source several small loans from multiple sources, as opposed to, say, one big loan from their bank. Well, Milaap does that… but takes it a step further.
It encourages people from all around the world to lend individually and collaboratively, via social fundraisers hosted on its platform, to micro businesses started by India’s working poor, for causes as diverse as water, energy, sanitation and education.
So literally, when you lend a little, you end up changing a lot.
This year, I’m thrilled that we’re working with Milaap on its flagship campaign, The Hope Project, which shines a spotlight on former Devadasis (pronounced “day-vuh-daah-sees” and meaning “servants of God”).
These are rural Indian women who, because of a centuries-old tradition (outlawed but still prevalent) were “dedicated” to serve their temple deity for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the system was abused, and many were forced into the sex trade.
In fact, it’s estimated that even today, approximately 250,000 girls in parts of southwestern India are still dedicated to this ancient practice.
Mahananda, who’s pictured above, is one such ex-Devadasi. Her story is heartwrenching… and there are way too many like it.
#HopeProject aims to help these hardworking women rebuild their lives by starting their own businesses. And when you, and I, and hopefully many others, invest in their lives, we’re doing just that – giving hope.
If you’re the kind of person who cares about making a difference in peoples’ lives – and I think you are – check out Mahananda’s story (and tell me if you recognize the voiceover!):
We’re kicking off the campaign today, and have all sorts of fun stuff planned, like a Milaap Champions of Hope initiative, and much, much more.
I know we try to do good every day. At least, most of us do. But to be able to contribute as tangibly as this to someone’s life… it literally gives me goosebumps.
So I hope you’ll come along for the ride!
This is awesome, Shonali! Let me know when you set up your fundraiser. I'll be happy to support you and this great organization!
And PS, loved hearing your lovely voice on the voice over!
This makes me both sad and happy: sad for the path these women have been forced to take, but happy that there is an option for them to change that path. I wanted to run over and comment quickly when I saw your post/tag on g+, and promise to return. For now, know that I will spread the word and be back soon. Cheers! Kaarina
@lauraclick Laura, THANK YOU, that is so kind of you! I will email you because there was something else I wanted to talk to you about.
How are you? I really appreciate you stopping by when you are so busy, and my own reading/curating/commenting has fallen off so much (I'm slowly trying to get back to normal). Have you chatted with @rhogroupee lately, btw?
@KDillabough Very belated thanks, Kaarina! Yes, it's the kind of cause that really makes you sit up and count your blessings, I think. What resilience these women show, don't they? Very inspiring.
@Howie Goldfarb Thanks, Howie! It really is. I know you have a lot going on but at any point if you'd like to get involved, just say the word.