What started as a trip to Uganda has turned into a global company benefiting women devastated from the country’s civil war.
Kallie Dovel, founder of 31 Bits, found out she had a passion for philanthropy, and jewelry, after staying with women she met in refugee camps. When she found out they sold necklaces out of paper beads for whatever price people would pay for them, she knew she had to do something. Dovel took back some of the jewelry to sell to buyers and sent the money back to Uganda, but to her, it wasn’t enough. So in 2008, Dovel and some friends went back to the war-torn country to help start 31 Bits.
The jewelry, made out of recycled paper and other “trash”, was initially bought from just 6 women from Gulu, Uganda, but the number has since risen to over 100! 31 Bits offers different collections, including a wedding set, from which proceeds will help these women realize and accomplish their dreams. Check out the video below to see what some of the women are doing with all the profits they earn.
Since the start of the company, 31 Bits has not only empowered women in their community, but also helps educate the ladies about local issues, along with volunteering within the community. Most notably on their blog was a talk by a Ugandan-based NGO (Non Government Organization) to help women learn how to deal with and prevent domestic violence. 31 Bits also offers English lessons, finance training, community groups, AIDS and health education, and vocational training (since many of the women start a new business or trade with the money they earn).
Uganda has been in the news quite a bit recently (think Kony), and I think what 31 Bits has done not only benefits the fashion world which is always eager for tribal accessories, but more importantly, the women whose hands craft these beautiful pieces.
Lovelies, what do you think of these necklaces? Would you buy this jewelry to support the cause of Uganda’s women?