SEATTLE, Washington — In the climax of a global pandemic, small businesses are not having an easy time. Influencers and media outlets are continually calling on the public to shop from these companies, in order to help the economy. Even so, countless family-owned, self-started businesses are downsizing and even shutting down. Many of those that remain afloat are still using their shrunken profits to make the world a better place. Here are three small businesses to support during the pandemic. Not only do they have great products but also an even better goal of fighting global poverty.
Janji Athletic Wear
Janji is an athletic wear company specializing in clothing for runners. It believes that “water is a vital part of everyday life and a necessary component to taking the first step on any run.” This value, when paired with the name of the company, which means ‘promise’ in Malay, frames the company’s mission. The brand recognizes water as a human right, and therefore, donates 2% of all profits to support clean water projects around the world. It has seasonal collections inspired by different nations, which all benefit from their clean water initiatives.
For example, it has designed lines paying homage to countries such as Kenya, Peru, Nepal and Uganda. This design initiative makes its clothes unique. They often contain vibrant patterns and useful features, such as designated phone pockets or quick-drying fabric. A graphic designer born and raised in the Philippines designed a recent line. Right now, Janji has everything from sports bras colored like the ocean that surrounds the Philippines to flowers that are native to the islands.
Janji’s Impact on Poverty
Janji targets its clothing toward runners, and its message is no different. The small business goes the extra mile to “expand access to safe drinking water in the places we run around the world.” When customers join the Janji collective program, 100% of their membership fees go toward funding clean water.
The company’s involvement in Evidence Action is one example of the impact Janji has had on reducing global poverty through clean water initiatives. Evidence Action is a nonprofit flagship program with a mission to “Deworm the World.” Donations from Janji, combined with groundwork the company put together in Uganda, have helped provide 25,000 people with a year’s supply of safe water.
Sudara is an Oregan-based company that partnered with a number of sewing centers in India to make handcrafted Punjammies. These are loungewear such as robes and slouch pants that are all 100% handmade. Each style is named after a woman at one of Sudara’s centers that sews and designs the clothing; this recognition is paramountly important as these employees were once sold into sex slavery in India. Thanks to Sudara, they have all found freedom alongside living wage employment. Empowering women is a noble goal, that is why Sudara is one of the small businesses to support.
The small business has partnerships with other sewing centers. These centers all have training programs that enable hundreds of previously oppressed women to work for them. For example, some Sudara women have gone on to start their own tailoring businesses. Others even took technology and cosmetology courses and found careers in those fields.
Sudara’s Impact on Poverty
One story of success is Soyamma. She began working in a Sudara sewing center in 2017. As a child, Soyamma’s abusive father forced her into sex slavery after her mother abandoned the family. The young girl ran away from home and found refuge at the Sudara center the day her father tried to sell her permanently in exchange for alcohol money. Soyamma is now an experienced tailor and beautician who has since moved on from her position at Sudara. However, due to the brand’s large impact on her, she continues to donate a large portion of her earnings to the brand.
Sudara has grown large enough as a brand to help at-risk women beyond its employees. The company’s name, “Sudara,” translates to beautiful in Sanskrit. The brand internalizes this idea, using its resources to not only provide for women but also empower them to be comfortable in their own skin.
Groundwork is based in Venice Beach, California but sources its coffee from all over the world. Its small-scale goal is to find the best coffee and share it with others. Not only does the small business believe its coffee to be the best there is but its values are equally, if not more, impressive. Groundwork is paving the way for fair trade coffee practices to be normalized, which is why it is one of the small businesses to support.
Groundwork offers support to all of the coffee farmers from which it sources globally. This initiative helps not only the growers and their families but also their communities and local economies. For example, Groundwork’s specialty is its Columbia AMUCC Fair Trade blend. This blend has already immensely helped the economy surrounding the predominantly female farmers that the business directly supports.
Groundwork’s Impact on Poverty
Kotwibakabo, the farm that harvests one of Groundwork’s most popular blends, is made in the Western Province of the Boneza Village. The establishment has 1,511 members, more than 500 of them being women, that collaborate on all levels of production. While working in agriculture, workers receive training in cash management, capacity building and practices to ensure admirable coffee yields. These skills allow the Rwandan farmers to learn what they need and create a future for themselves. Prior to working as farmers, most of the people employed were living in poverty.
By only doing their business through Groundwork, farmers no longer have to experience poverty after harvesting their beans. Thus, the coffee company’s mission, “to ensure that no offerings come at the expense of the farmers who brought [coffee beans]to market,” comes to fruition. Beyond humanitarian goals, the company also has those in sustainability, with eco-friendly packaging and in-store practices. These three small businesses to support can provide consumers with a noble cause while also purchasing high-quality products.
The pandemic has significantly impacted small businesses. These are three small businesses to support during the pandemic. By supporting one or all of them, one can not only help a small business survive but also help people out of poverty worldwide.
– Ava Roberts