Our NEWEST Partnerships!

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We are so excited to announce our two newest partnerships! We now offer handcrafted precious metal jewelry from the Nepal and India based organization, Relevée, and beautiful, distinctive home décor items from the Tanzania based organization, WomenCraft.

Relevée

Relevee logoRelevée, meaning ‘to rise up’ in French, is a non-profit organization that gives 100% of its proceeds to Made By Survivors, a charity that helps women and girls get free from exploitation and slavery. Their jewelry is designed and fabricated by vulnerable women overcoming severe human rights abuses such as human trafficking and child marriage in India and Nepal. Relevée provides a safe and loving place for rescued survivors to heal and rebuild their lives with shelter, education, job training, and employment programs.

Here are a couple of products we’re offering from the Relevée jewelry collection.

Gold Plated Bright Futures Earrings

Gold Plated Bright Futures Earrings
These free-spirited hammered earrings, are plated in 22 karat gold, hung on vermeil (sterling silver plated in gold) ear wires, and inspired by a deconstructed bullseye. Measures 2.2″ long exclusive of ear wires. Relevée is all about bright futures—for their artisans, their artisans’ children, and for women everywhere. They believe education and employment are necessary tools for hitting that target. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade.

Bright Futures NecklaceBright Futures Necklace
This dramatic statement necklace is inspired by a deconstructed bullseye, plated in 22 karat gold and featuring hand-hammered discs, plated in 22 karat go, on a 17.5″ handmade loop chain. At Relevée, we are all about bright futures – for our artisans and their children, for our customers, and for women everywhere. We believe education and employment are necessary tools for hitting that target. This necklace is artisanally crafted and ethically made to remind you to always shoot for your dreams. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade.

WomenCraft

WomenCraft LogoWomenCraft is a community-driven social enterprise operating from one of the poorest areas of the world, Ngara, Tanzania. WomenCraft creates local employment opportunities by bringing rural women together, facilitating their growth, and connecting their artistry to the global marketplace. Through WomenCraft, 300+ rural East African women express their culture and use their talents by weaving home décor products that are beautiful and functional. With the skills gained and income earned, WomenCraft members can now send their children to school, grow nutritious food, and start micro-enterprises. They create a brighter future for their families and inspire the world around them.

Here are a couple of products we’re offering from the WomenCraft home collection.

WC-MAUA-SKY

Maua Fruit Bowl
The maua design, which means “flower” in Swahili, was inspired by the flower design seen on traditional Hangaza bowls. This bowl can function as a centerpiece on a dining room table, be hung on your wall for decoration, or placed in a bedroom or bathroom to help you stay organized. Available in Sky Blue, Jungle Green, and Safari Red. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade, Green.

WC-MKATE-SKYMkate Handled Basket – Set of 3
This bread basket set is a unique and functional addition to any dining room table or kitchen. Use it for storing your breakfast pastries, cookies, or warm dinner rolls. Available in Sky Blue, Jungle Green, and Safari Red. Comes with one small, one medium, and one large basket. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade, Green.

Introducing Our New Partners

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New Partners Email GraphicWe are so proud to announce our two new partnerships with the Bangladesh based organization, Motif Ltd., and the USA based organization, Ūsful Glassworks. These exciting collaborations allow us to support the good they’re doing in the world—providing sustainable futures to those who need a little help—by promoting their exceptional products. Let us introduce you to them:

Motif Ltd.

motif_logo_squareMotif is a fair trade organization that generates and fulfills deep hope and sustainable livelihoods for Bangladeshi women and men. Motif works directly with 20 to 100 artisans at any given time, while touching the lives of many more family and community members. Women are given a ‘safe place’ where they earn a good wage with integrity and respect. Whether inspired by the local traditions and materials of Bangladesh or custom designed, all Motif products are handmade from recycled, eco-friendly materials.

Here are a couple of products we’re offering from the Motif jute collection:

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Jute Shopping Bag
Handmade from jute and cotton net weave, this super-size bag is lightweight, strong, and stylish. Features an outer pocket for everything eco-friendly. Straps measure 21″. Bag measures 14.5″H x 15″W x 5″D. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade, Green.

 

MOT-GROC-Clipped

 

Jute Foldaway Grocery Bag
This strong, lightweight, eco-friendly foldaway bag is made from jute and cotton, and is a statement of all things good for your groceries. Pouch measures 5.5″ square. Bag measures 14″H x 13″W x 6″D. Socially Responsible, Fair Trade, Green. 

 

Ūsful Glassworks

UsfulLogoPrimaryŪsful Glassworks is a USA based nonprofit organization out of Boise, Idaho that produces repurposed glassware from empty wine, liquor, beer, and soda bottles. Ūsful’s mission is to help those with job barriers feel useful again by creating environmentally friendly products while building proficiency in workplace ethics, production operations and other vocational skills. Their job-training participants include offenders, refugees, homeless, at-risk youth, veterans, those on public assistance, and low-income seniors.

Here are a couple of products we’re offering from the Ūsful glassware collection:

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Tumbler Glass Gift Set of 4, 12 oz.
This four pack of recycled wine bottle glasses is a terrific conversation piece at any gathering. Made from 750ml wine bottles, these tumbler-sized glasses come in Clear, Green, Olive, Amber, and Variety Pack. Great for serving water, wine, juice, or beer. Dishwasher and microwave safe. Socially Responsible, Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA. 

 

UG-CARSET-GRNWine Bottle Carafe Set
This carafe set is an elegant gift for anyone on your list! Made from Italian glass, this set includes four 10 oz. glasses wine bottle glasses and a beautiful matching decanter. All five pieces are made from recycled 750 ml wine bottles. Available in Clear, Green, and Olive. Socially Responsible, Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA.

Travel Gift Ideas

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Summer’s here, and that means vacation is too! Why not customize a unique travel accessory for your clients to use on their next trip? Not only are these products handmade, they’re socially responsible as well; your purchase supports causes like empowering impoverished women, providing free education for children of the artisans, and providing job training and support for homeless and at-risk youth. Stand out from the crowd and make a difference in someone’s life by choosing a unique, socially responsible item to promote your business.

FIVE-BAGTAG-ALLCOLORSLuggage Tag – Retail: $12.00

Dress your luggage for your next destination with these beautiful and rugged luggage tags handmade from netting under fair trade labor practices in Cambodia. The purchase of this product provides income, dignity, and hope to the artisans and their families and free daycare and preschool for their children. Fair Trade.

 

FIVE-TRAVPASSPORT-GRNPassport Travel Wallet – Retail: $32.00

Keep travel documents and important papers together in this stylish pouch handmade from netting under fair labor practices in Cambodia. Features include snap closure and two zippered pockets. The purchase of this product provides income, dignity, and hope to the artisans and their families and free daycare and preschool for their children. Fair Trade.

 

FIVE-TRAVBUDDY-AllColorsTravel Buddy Organizer – Retail: $38.00 

Prepare for your next trip with this folding organizer handmade from netting under fair trade labor practices in Cambodia. Features include multiple transparent and net pockets as well as a loop for hanging. The purchase of this product provides income, dignity, and hope to the artisans and their families and free daycare and preschool for their children. Fair Trade.

 

BE-TTTSET

Tea & Tin Travel Set – Retail: $14.00

Each travel set contains one Lemon Tea 2 oz. travel-sized eco-friendly soy candle and two pods of Lemon Tea scented bath teas. This product is handmade by employees at Bright Endeavors, the social enterprise for New Moms. Inc. Bright Endeavors provides a job-development training program for homeless and at-risk young mothers between the ages of 17 and 24. Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA. 

 

MG-WKEND-MATEA

Matea Weekender – Retail: $328.00

Handmade by Guatemalan artisans, the Matea Weekender combines traditional stripes with intricate hand-woven brocade. Features include inner and outer pockets, a detachable strap, and macramé pompom details. Accented with nickel hardware and 100% cotton. The purchase of this product provides basic necessities such as nutritious meals for Mercado Global’s women cooperative members and their families, as well as schooling for their children. Fair Trade.

HHR Newsletter – November 2011

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Our newsletter brings you the latest information from Helping Hand Rewards and our socially responsible partners. This issue includes:

  • Meet Our Newest Partner: Yali Derman
  • Mercado Global Makes Headlines
  • Case Study: Hotel Palomar Chicago Offers Bath Teas from Bright Endeavors

To view the newsletter, click here.

See something you like? Suggestions? Or, perhaps you have a story idea for a future issue. Leave a comment below. We appreciate the feedback!

Chicago Lighthouse Profile: Rita McCabe

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She estimates that she has made nearly one million clocks.

One of her proudest moments was presenting her mom with one of those clocks that has lasted more than 25 years.

She has been quoted nationally about her work in the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Meet Rita McCabe, one of the employees on the assembly line at Lighthouse Industries, a program of The Chicago Lighthouse that holds the official contract for manufacturing clocks for the U.S. government.  Indeed, clocks made at the Lighthouse are displayed in federal offices across the country and around the globe.

A native of Minnesota, Rita, who is totally blind, first came to the Lighthouse in the mid 70s while a member of the Salvation Army.  She joined the agency in 1979 and has been an employee there ever since.

“I enjoy my job,” she smiles.  “I appreciate being able to support myself plus have an opportunity to work with so many wonderful people!”

Rita goes about her daily tasks with much precision a she assembles the clock from components that include the body, movement, dial, hour and minute hands.  She assembles clocks of various sizes and styles, and then places the sub-assembly on the assembly line where the remaining components are assembled.  The end product is fully tested for accuracy, boxed and shipped to destinations far and wide.

In a given year, the Lighthouse, which will celebrate its 105th anniversary in 2011, manufactures between 160,000 and 200,000 clocks per year.

For employees like Rita, this program has provided steady employment at a time when people who are blind cope with a jobless rate that hovers near 70%.

“She is a fantastic member of our team,” states Jean Claude Kappler, vice president of Lighthouse Industries who oversees the clock-making operation.

“Like so many of our employees who are blind or visually impaired, Rita has a strong work ethic and brings a craftsmanship-like quality to her job.”

He adds that the quality of Lighthouse clocks is one of the reasons the program has been able to thrive for the past 30 years.

When Rita checks out of the factory for the day, she turns her attention to her other interests including volunteer work at her church and rooting for her favorite teams, the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and her beloved Chicago White Sox.

A resident of the city’s south side, she makes no bones about being a big White Sox fan.

Asked about her resolutions for the coming new year, Rita responds with a chuckle, “I never make resolutions because I know I can’t keep them!”

Though, she looks forward to making even more clocks in 2011.

Trust Building With CSR

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In times where many companies are losing trust with consumers due to either poor business ethics or requesting bailouts, there has been a greater emphasis on that “triple bottom line.” Assuming that companies will automatically regain trust when things turn around is flawed logic at this point in time. Many organizations are looking to regain the trust of their customers in the lean times so when business prospers again, it will reap even greater dividends. How are these companies re-gaining trust?

Social responsibility.

Corporate social responsiblity has been a nearly overused buzzword in the business world. Just type #csr into a Twitter search and see how many results pop up. Companies are looking beyond just their end results and seeing how their business practices will help those around them. For many companies, these efforts take shape in the form of

sustainability practices – how to reduce their carbon footprint in their day to day operations. For example, Starbucks took their initiative in reducing paper waste by offering free coffee to individuals who brought in re-usable coffee mugs.

Some brands are taking CSR beyond the realm of environmental issues. One of the largest brands in the world, Proctor and Gamble, have extremely diversified CSR efforts, ranging from providing clean water in Africa to providing assistance and disaster relief to other parts of the globe. This is obviously a costly venture for P&G along with other brands who participate in similar undertakings. So why invest in it?

Some would argue that these brands have a “with great power comes great responsibility” mindset. In a way, that could very well be true. These companys could have people of high integrity at the helm. There is also another purpose however. Companies who are perceived to be using their resources for good tend to be trusted more than other brands. Consumers are more likely to do business with brands they trust than brands they are either indifferent about or don’t trust. So overall, these socially responsible investments will not only help the world but could also have a positive effect on the company’s bottom line. This technique is not only used to build trust of consumers but to build trust among its employees and improve engagement and employee retention.

What brands do you see using CSR as trust building tools?

Using CSR To Attract (and keep!) Millenial Workers

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The unconventional is slowly becoming conventional.

According to an article by The Economic Times, more young entreprenuers are opting for less conventional career paths, looking to pursue social missions using for-profit business models. Many people agree that younger entreprenuers are a model for necessary change in how we do business. Not only making money, but helping others and creating better sustainability in the process (also known as social enterprises). These business ideals are becoming more and more mainstream with Generation Y and Millenial workers. It’s the ideal that business is no longer just about making money but making the world a better place in the process.

There are several other like-minded workers that have a passion for sustainability but without the ability to pursue their own private venture. What makes this sort of talent choose which organization they want to work for? For these folks, an organizations involvement in social responsibility will have a huge impact on how they ultimately choose (and more importantly remain with) an employer. How a company gives back, whether it be through volunteer time, money, or using fair trade products as corporate gifts, influences a person’s view and/or loyalty toward that organization.

How are you using social responsibility to maintain employee engagement and loyalty?

Social Responsibility: What’s In It For Me?

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If you were to type in “corporate socially responsibility” into Google today, you would have over 10 million results come back to you. “CSR” and “corporate sustainability” have been buzz words in business of late. It’s a bandwagon that many businesses want to (or appear to) be jumping on. You may be thinking “Yeah, social responsibility is good and all but what’s in it for me?”

This may sound somewhat of a cynical thought, especially coming from a social-minded organization like ourselves. However, it’s definitely an issue worth addressing. Social responsibility will definitely help others but how will it ultimately help yourself?

Despite the recession, employee retention is at an all time low across the board for businesses. Many predictions have been made that as soon as the economy begins to recover and the recession is over, several employees will jump ship. Utilizing CSR in your business will help retain your current workforce and even draw in new talent. Knowing a corporation uses their resources to make the world a better place is an attractive asset for employees. This inspires employees to work harder since the fruits of their labors will go to benefit a greater good than just purely the bottom line.

Rewarding employees with socially responsible gifts will also improve retention and engagement. This was briefly discussed in a previous blog post. The idea of non-cash merchandise incentives is supposed to motivate employees to do better work. When these incentives also go to help someone make a better life for themselves, the reward becomes a win win situation. The social enterprise producing the product helps someone in need, the employee receives an incentive knowing that their hard work recognition helped someone, and the corporation’s reputation benefits as a result of doing good.

This “do-gooder” reputation is vital for company growth. A socially responsible company appeals to more potential investors as well as talent. CSR practices show good leadership and give your company brand a positive reputation, creating more trust for those wanting to invest in your company.

In regards to social responsibility, what’s in it for you? Plenty. However giving should be an unselfish act, a time when you expect nothing in return.

Thoughts?

Rewarding More Than Just Athletes In Vancouver

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You’re a corporate sponsor of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Great! Are you a socially responsible partner? Even better.

The Vancouver Olympics are making social responsibility a priority for their corporate sponsors. On the official website, partners who have incorporated social responsibility and/or sustainability into their Olympic business plan get an extra PR boost for their contribution. The Games this year are trying to not just highlight athletic achievement but also the social good being done behind the scenes.

Social enterprise groups have also found a way onto the Olympic scene. According to an article on the Ventureneer website, an organization called the RONA 2010 Fabrication Shop has found its way into contributing to the Olympic effort. This enterprise specializes in giving employment to those individuals finding difficulty “attaching themselves to the workforce.” All the podiums, wheel chair ramps, ski racks and other related things have been built by this socially minded organization. The Ventureneer article also goes on to explain even more ways social responsibility has made its way onto the international scene.

Social responsibility is getting more international attention. Check out some of our international social enterprise partners.

CSR’s Bottom Line: Disney Volunteer Day

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If any of you have seen any TV in the last month or so, you more than likely have seen ads featuring Disney’s new offer to boost volunteerism. If you give a day of service to any participating organizations, Disney will give you a free day at one of their parks. This is one pretty neat way the company is encouraging other people to get involved in helping others without just making a lump donation. The program engages people to pick which organization they want to volunteer with, since  people are more passionate about some causes over others.

Disney’s push for volunteerism will also potentially help create more consistency in giving back among those who may not do so on a regular basis. Seeing how many people will only do it just for the free pass, they will be exposed to a new experience and/or organization and could be more inclined to help them out in the future, without the free ticket incentive.

This is not only a win for volunteering, Disney will be able to put up a W for themselves before it’s all said and done. Corporate social responsibility nearly always improves a company’s image and increases the likelihood of the public wanting to do business with them. The image factor isn’t the only way Disney benefits. Admission prices are only a small part of revenue generated from park visits. Anybody who has been to a Disney park knows that the average person spends as much (if not more sometimes) on other things while in the park like dining and souvenirs. This will help the parks earn money from people they may not typically have revenue from.

Who says CSR doesn’t help the bottom line in the end? Genius idea on Disney’s part. What do you think?

Want to see other companies doing good things? Click here to see more!