First and Last Name: Sydney Alfonso
During my study abroad year in Turkey, I witnessed women selling jewelry on the streets as they struggled to compete in overcrowded local markets. After graduation, I spent six months in Turkey at a cooperative working with women who lacked access to materials, design and most importantly an international market. This January, I returned home and started working with Native American artisans who face a similar situation in New Mexico. Lack of resources leaves many artisan women in desperate financial situations because they do not have the education to support themselves outside their craft.
Etkie is a double bottom line jewelry and accessories company. We source all of our products from struggling female artisans AND financially enable individuals or organizations to further their own idea of social change through our Etkie impact kits. This past year, I traveled to different campuses around the country hosting Etkie events with university organizations. Our sales grew the first year exclusively through student run fundraisers, and person-to-person sales. We had motivated individuals selling our jewelry that believed in the Etkie mission while at the same time earning money for their own causes. We were so inspired by these organizations’ dedication to support Etkie artisans that it only made sense to help them earn money for their social projects.
Etkie means impact in Turkish. We’ve created jewelry that is made by women in developing areas with an understanding that a lack of education or social stigmas hinder her ability to earn an income. Etkie is a business that currently serves eight women artisans by providing designs, start-up materials, and holistic support through local organizations. We facilitate responsible trade that prioritizes a woman’s wellbeing over figures. Additionally, our sales team looks to motivated individuals and organizations to help us sell our products via our impact kits while at the same time helping them earn up to 30% commission to use towards creating their own idea of social change.
I’ve found that the key to sustainability is partnering with a local in-country host organization. They are the cultural and societal guides for our business and have thus far been the greatest asset in accomplishing our goals. Many of our artisans are faced with abject poverty, sexual violence or homelessness. We must understand these issues and translate this understanding into realistic expectations about what we can achieve. We have to explore the “who”, “how” and “why” of our artisans not just the “when” and “how much”. Our host organizations help us assess and overcome these situations and together we have created mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships.
We understand that our customers want to see tangible evidence of how their purchase is making an immediate impact so in each application we ask each host organizations to create a list with concrete examples of how the money is utilized. The annual report will be available online. On a larger scale, Etkie’s mission includes expanding our services and creating a company that upholds its corporate commitments. By creating employment, supporting the growth of the social sector through our supply chain, and community reinvestment of economic resources, Etkie hopes to become a thriving social business that is also commercially rewarded.
$50,000 would allow us to support over 15 artisans in three countries and generate enough money within a year to double the number of women we serve. We would use $30,000 to build 113 impact kits (we already have 20 people signed up!), which would in turn generate $67,235 for Etkie and $28,815 for organizations earning money with our impact kit. $10,000 will be divided between our in-country host organizations to purchase equipment, materials, and working capital needed to produce large orders. The remaining $10,000 will be utilized for purchasing software to customize an online commission based sales platform to be integrated with our current website.
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at 12:00 PM PDT
Tuesday, July 02