We give gifts to make people happy. There are some gifts, however, that can make more than the recipient happy.
Bead for Life, a Boulder nonprofit founded in 2004, works to help women raise themselves out of poverty. One of the ways they accomplish that is through income-generation programs that help women build up an initial nest egg, which they can then use to start their own businesses.
Bead for Life’s primary income-generation program involves training women to roll recycled paper into colorful, beautiful beads, which Bead for Life then buys at fair trade prices and sells to consumers worldwide.
Torkin Wakefield, founder of Bead for Life, says these beaded jewelry items make meaningful, attractive gifts for the holidays.
“The person you give it to has something that’s really pretty and they’re helping someone else. What could be better than that?” Wakefield says.
At $5 to $30 for different styles of bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry, and $4 for Shea butter lip balm and soap, these gifts won’t strain the wallet, either.
“Almost everybody can afford them,” Wakefield says.
Bead for Life’s work doesn’t stop at bead-making. The income generation program is only the first step. The real emphasis is on entrepreneurial education and helping women set up viable businesses within the Ugandan economy.
“We’re not training bead-makers,” Wakefield says. “That’s what Bead for Life is about … helping women really leave poverty.”
So far, Wakefield says, more than 600 women have graduated from bead-making to owning their own homes or businesses, and Bead for Life is also expanding into Shea butter production to hopefully reach even more women and their families.
And even when the holidays are over, you can still share beautiful art and support a great cause by hosting a “bead party.” Bead for Life provides the host with a party box of about 300 beaded jewelry items and Shea butter products, along with informational DVDs and pamphlets to share with guests. The proceeds from any items sold benefit Bead for Life, and the unsold items are returned and repackaged for another bead party. Wakefield says there are about 3,000 bead parties held each year.
For more about Bead for Life, visit www.beadforlife.org, or stop by the store at 2336 Canyon Blvd. in Boulder.
Bead for Life isn’t the only place for fair trade gifts in Boulder. Momentum, at 1625 Pearl St., has been offering fair trade, environmentally friendly and responsible gifts since 2007.
After a number of years doing aid work overseas, owners Kevin and Jenny Napatow settled down in Boulder and opened Momentum. The aim, says Kevin, is to provide a place where people can “shop their conscience” and to show people that fair trade is about more than coffee and chocolate.
“We’re a fair trade store,” Kevin says. “It essentially guarantees that all the artisans we work with receive a living wage.”
Momentum carries items from more than 65 countries, and its selection includes everything from children’s toys to stationery to bath and body products.
“We try to focus on things that are utilitarian,” Kevin says, “things that are practical, that you’ll use.”
Artisans featured at Momentum include Asha Imports, which provides skills training and employment to women in southern Asia, and the Batsiranai Craft Project, a group of 26 women affected by or living with AIDS who started the business in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2004.
For more information on Momentum, visit www.ourmomentum.com, or call 303- 440-7744. Momentum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.