A small group of California readers of my book, MY JOB: Real People At Work Around the World, has joined forces to support job-creation programs working in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. They’re proof that it's possible to collaborate to create dignified work for all.
The group, a giving circle called Sisters Share Santa Cruz, met to learn about my family and the mission behind Skees Family Foundation, and how our efforts to help end poverty in the U.S. and abroad led me into this three-year book project. We talked about the audacity of publishing any book at all in today's glutted market and the hope that MY JOB will gather people together around their shared human experience of work. Hearing excerpts from three chapters, the Sisters Share group decided to donate small grants to three job-creation programs, listed below.
AID Tanzania: An ecosystem of education and jobs for a forgotten African tribe
MY JOB's Chapter 7 narrator, African warrior Wantay Irmakesen, may be the Maasai tribe's fiercest feminist. Having trained as a warrior since early childhood and earned what his wife calls "his Ph.D. in warrior" by age fifteen, Wantay later pursued studies in Swahili and English and became the first in his family to complete secondary school. That was just the beginning for Wantay. He became an "education philanthropist," funding first his family, then other Maasai youth, to complete their studies and build lives of prosperity and choice, in an arid land with few resources that Wantay compares to Native American reservations in the U.S.
Wantay and his wife, Tina, launched a nonprofit called AID Tanzania to enable the pastoral, or tribal, youth of their community in and around Ngorongoro, Tanzania (East Africa), to obtain a quality primary education and prepare for secondary school outside their village. They offer room and board, tutoring, English, and career studies for the students. They also employ parents in a "Women's Enterprise" livelihoods program (check out some of their products here).
Working Capital for Community Needs/WCCN: Microloans and Jobs to Empower Families in Latin America
MY JOB's Chapter 8 narrator, Mayra Gámez, got pulled out of school to work alongside her mother as a maid and migrant farmer; but she never gave up on her dream to own a piece of land and a casita (little house) in the mountains of Nicaragua (Central America). She endured the heartbreak of abandonment and divorce and raised a family of four children on her own, all the while learning farming and business skills that would lead to her current role as founder and president of a women's coffee-farming cooperative.
Mayra received support from impact-investor Working Capital for Community Needs/WCCN, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit dedicated to providing loans to low-income workers and small-scale farmers as well as market access to improve the lives and communities of the working poor in Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Peru. She's just one of nearly 50,000 people who've accessed a self-determined life via dignified work through WCCN. Check out their website and Facebook page for more information.
Pay-It-Forward Capital Helps Small Businesses "Thriive" in Vietnam and Beyond
MY JOB's Chapter 4 narrator Dinh Nga, who went to college to be a teacher and then trained as a naturopathic-medicine doctor, now studies business and entrepreneurship before dawn and after dark, long past the hours her employees put in at her small factory outside Hanoi, Vietnam (Southeast Asia). She and her teenaged son, traumatized by the number of children who drown en route to school amid flash floods every year in Vietnam's mountaintop monsoons, decided to design and produce a school backpack that doubles as a flotation device (see their products on Alibaba).
Thriive, the Idaho-based nonprofit that's invested in Nga's backpack company, works in five developing-economy countries with 380 businesses that have created about 2,000 jobs through a unique pay-it-forward model that provides capital-equipment loans to small businesses who must repay their loans via service or philanthropy in their own local communities. Not only does Thriive help mom-and-pop shops create jobs for the working poor; they are working with local partners to instill leadership and philanthropy among unsung heroes who never imagined they'd have a chance to effect change.
The Collaborative Power of Women: Sisters Share
The giving circle whose members decided to support these three global job-creation programs, Sister Share Santa Cruz, is based on a mission to create community for like-minded women to share causes and activities that are "close-to-the-heart."
Sisters Share describes itself as a forum for women to share causes ,ideas, and events, with a mission of supporting well-lived lives and the sisterhood of all women. Founded in 2016, the group brings together women of all ages who gather monthly for socializing, sharing, gratitude, and giving, supporting local and global nonprofits either founded by women or in support of girls and women.
Spending two consecutive evenings with this group (they meet on both Sunday and Monday evenings to accommodate members' busy schedules), I was struck by their spirit of support and insight into what it takes to create jobs and contribute to a virtuous ecosystem of prosperity through work. We shared delicious food cooked by host Cheri Lippmann and her husband, Jerry Lippmann, as well as members who brought potluck dishes.
For more information about Sisters Share, contact Cheri Lippmann at email@example.com. If you'd like to help create a job, simply visit our partner page at myjobstories.org.