Shop Wisely

Bead by Bead, tells the story of how Monkey Biz transformed South African beadwork and became a model for grassroots empowerment. Barbara Jackson, Shirley Fintz, and Mataphelo Ngaka founded Monkey Biz to market beadwork created by 450 disadvantaged Xhosa women who live in Khayelitsha, an impoverished township in Cape Town. The beaders work at home so they can look after their families and avoid transportation costs, but all proceeds go directly to them. Their amusing beaded dollies have been exhibited at Sotheby’s.

In Her Shoes. The profits from this boutique go to the Global Fund for Women. Shop for shoes from ballet flats to boots (priced from $30 to $300 a pair), bags and belts—or treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure. Learn more

Kepler’s Books and Magazines. If you say “The Global Fund for Women” as you buy a book in this store or via their website, Kepler’s will donate 10% of your purchase to that organization, which is the recipient of 100% of the author’s royalties from Women Who Light the Dark.

Baskets. Katie Doyle co-founded Virunga Artisans to benefit craftspeople in Rwanda, Uganda and the Republic of Congo who live near the Volcanoes National Park where the last 700 mountain gorillas reside. The fair trade income from their baskets, carvings, coffee and tea provide the artisans with a livelihood that makes it unnecessary to intrude on the gorilla’s habitat. Learn more

When you shop for gifts via free trade sources, you support economic equality, help end child labor, and empower women and girls abroad. The Shop For Change store is full of products created by talented craftswomen who live in areas of conflict and post-conflict. The sponsors, US Women Without Borders and the Women's Funding Network, offer many practical ways to make a difference in the lives of Learn more

Give the gift that furthers peace. The Jerusalem Candle of Hope was made by women in Israel and Palestine who are working together in an unusual joint venture. Embedded in the wax are olive leaves and indigenous, ever lasting flowers; an embroidered bag contains a tea light candle that fits inside the larger candle and extends its life. Learn more

The “Sweatshop-free Sneaker has arrived from the Best little union shop in Jakarta, Indonesia,” Global Exchange advertises: “Help us make history.” Their stores operate according to Fair Trade criteria. Find store locations

Shop on line at iGive and they will donate a percentage of your purchase to your favorite charity. More than 500 retailers participate, including Amazon, Gap, eBay, FTD, Good Guys, Hallmark, Lane Bryant, Horchow, JC Penney, Macy’s. Office Depot, and others like AOL, United Airlines, The New York Times. Learn more

Bead For Life. Three American women, Torkin Wakefield, Ginny Jordan and Devin Hibbard, stopped to admire Millie’s recycled paper beads in a market in Uganda. Millie confided that there was no market for her beads so she earned $1/day working in a rock quarry. All three bought beads, and in 2004, they launched Bead for Life, which has been featured by NBC and O Magazine. Now 600+ beaders earn a regular income. Beautiful necklaces and bracelets are sold via house parties. You could have one! Learn more

Gauzy, long coats like the ones Paola wears for many of her public appearances are created by Anat, a local women’s embroidery group in Damascus, Syria and marketed by the nonprofit Eos Group, an affiliate of UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity. Learn more

Upstairs on 7th sells clothing by exclusive designers, accessories and jewelry---and every month, selects a non-profit in the Washington DC area to receive a portion of their sales. They also collect in-kind and monetary donations for that group. If you know an organization that benefits women and children, suggest it to Ricki Peltzman, the owner! Learn more

Next time you settle down with your café latte at Starbucks, know that the company devotes part of the money you spent to educating kids in the very places you see on coffee labels in their stores: Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Guatemala, Ethiopia. Starbucks invested $1million in schools in their coffee growing areas last year. Not bad for a company where 1/3 of the VP+ level officers are women. Learn more about their responsiblity model here.

Three impressive nonprofit organizations market everything from purses to pillowcases covered with folkloric Indian embroidery created by traditional craftswomen in Gujarat, a state plagued by poverty, floods and droughts.

  1. The Self Employed Women’s Association, India’s largest trade union (all members are women) operates a bank run by and for women, trains women artisans, provides healthcare, childcare and education. Crafts are sold via two outlets: Kutchcraft (115 artisan groups) and Banascraft (10,000 artisans). Learn more
  2. Shrujan, which provides work to 3,500 women from 100 villages, has trained 18,000 embroiderers since 1969. The organization’s Design Center on Wheels, makes training more available to desert women. Learn more
  3. The Kala Raksha Trust, founded in 1993, is dedicated to preserving traditional arts. Women artisans benefit from the Trust’s Resource Center and Museum, marketing, healthcare and education programs. Learn more