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Global Mothers reaches out to mothers everywhere

May 8, 2012

Global Mothers is a new, Vancouver-based nonprofit with a mission to use commerce to help women escape poverty. Based upon the concept that people would rather support themselves than receive a handout, Global Mothers and its partner NGOs apply an “ABCD” (asset-based community development) model which uses a community’s existing resources to enable it to get off the ‘aid train’. And Global Mothers also believes that, given an opportunity to help others, end-consumers will choose to “Buy Good”.

“Gogo Olive” is an NGO that works with Global Mothers. The following is the story of Alice, the woman shown here with her daughter and grandchild:

“Alice is one of the original 6 ladies who joined Gogo Olive in 2008 when the project began. She has 7 children and 10 grandchildren and shares her two roomed house with 16 of her dependents. Her husband has left her, leaving Alice with the responsibility of looking after her family.  Alice’s daughter Mercy, who lives with her, is also involved with the project. Mercy is 29 and is a widow with 3 young children.  Both these ladies are hardworking and committed to the project. Gogo Olive is so thankful for them, they are gentle and conscientious ladies who are an amazing example to us, they are always positive and have constant smiles on their faces!

Alice says “When I joined Gogo Olive I was poor but now me and my family have a better life.” Their involvement in Gogo Olive enables them to meet the needs of their families, including paying school fees. Mercy talks about her favourite times at Gogo Olive “I love knitting the animals and the times we joke and dance during the lessons.”

The big launch event for Global Mothers, set for this Saturday, May 12th (see below), coincides with the celebration of Mother’s Day the following day. When a woman is empowered, she not only feeds her family but the community as a whole benefits. And we, as Canadian consumers, contribute by choosing where to spend our money. The concept of Canadian mothers helping impoverished mothers in other parts of the world links perfectly with Mother’s Day.

I spoke recently with the dynamic pair with the vision behind Global Mothers: Peter Mogan, President of Global Mothers who has an extensive background working with charities in the Global South, and his daughter Katie Mogan, Project Coordinator. Peter and Katie explained to me that instead of the traditional, donor-based method of funding for nonprofits, Global Mothers is structured as a social enterprise. Business is the driver all the way along the chain. The circle of commerce starts with NGOs in the global south who work in, and are therefore knowledgeable about, the needs, resources and abilities of the artisans and their communities. Using her background in fashion and design, Katie has worked with the artisans to design children’s toys and clothing, jewelry and household items that are commercially appealing, products that people will want to purchase on an ongoing basis. The NGOs act as the go-between to pay the women and ship the products to Global Mothers which in turn sells them. Global Mothers’ goal is to use proceeds from the sales to extend its reach to other areas of the world as well as to assist NGOs to improve the welfare of the communities as a whole. A novel and intriguing part of the Global Mothers’ plan is to sell the products not just through its website but through home parties.

Global Mothers started just over a year ago and has spent that time sourcing NGOs, communities and products that meet their strict criteria. Currently, Global Mothers is working with eight different supply partners in Africa and Bangladesh. Another six Bangladeshi NGOs are potential future partners. Some of the NGOs work with as few as six women while others work with thousands. To be a partner, Global Mothers requires that the NGOs adhere to the principle of sustainability versus aid and have an excellent track record. The NGOs must ensure that the women receive a fair wage and have good working conditions. Global Mothers has also met all of the exacting testing standards for the children’s products which it sells.

Now, how about the fun part? Where can we Buy Good? At the launch, Global Mothers’ current array of beautiful, hand-made goods will be on display and available for order (as an extra feature, free shipping for orders placed on the launch date). Not only that, but you can munch on some goodies while listening to stories and songs from Sheree Plett (you can hear a sample of her exquisite music by clicking on her name). If you want a little more action, turn the kids loose at the activity table and try your hand at learning African drumming. So share the spirit of Mother’s Day, bring mom, grandma and your sister and check out Global Mothers. The launch is Saturday, May 12, from 12:00-4:00 pm at Regent College, 5800 University Blvd., UBC. For more information and to get a preview of some of the cutest kids’ things ever, check out the Global Mothers Facebook page. And watch for the re-launch of the website on May 12. If you would like to learn more about Global Mothers, see videos of artisans at work and learn about the impact of Global Mothers on their lives, check out these videos.

The UN states that women represent 70% of the world’s 1.3 billion people living below the poverty line.  Many of these women are also mothers caring for their children, several of whom will have been taken in as orphans. In most cases, these women provide for their families on daily incomes of $1-$2US. (from Global Mothers website)

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