Entrepreneurship Challenge Profile: Simon

Meet Simon

This post is the first in a series of three, as we introduce you to the three top finalists from June’s Entrepreneurship Challenge with Not For Sale and brand partner Spence Diamonds. Profiles for our third place winner, Esther, and second place winner, Benard, are also available on the Not For Sale blog. 

Steps Toward Change 

Our first place winner for this month’s entrepreneurship challenge with Spence Diamonds is Simon Marot Touloung! Simon’s brand-new sandal making business is only 4 months old, but shows great promise.

Originally from South Sudan, Simon came to Uganda in 2000 when he was just 8 years old. Simon moved around from one refugee settlement to another during his childhood and teenage years. While living in Rhino refugee settlement, Simon received a scholarship to attend university. After graduating, Simon eventually moved to Kiryandongo refugee settlement and joined together with 5 other refugee youth to found a peace building initiative called the African Youth Action Network (AYAN) in 2015. To date, Simon’s initiative has trained 162 refugee and host community youth in peacekeeping,, leadership and video editing.

The youth that Simon mentored through AYAN often complained that they didn’t have anything to do, or any way to support themselves. Simon decided that a shoe-making enterprise could be a good solution.

Using recycled tires and a borrowed sewing machine, Simon learned how to make stylish sandals from discarded materials.

In the past few months, Simon has trained and hired his first two youth sandal-makers, Willy and Pouk, with hopes to quickly expand and hire more youth! He hopes to set up a workshop that can train many youth in skills that they can someday take back to their countries of origin to open new businesses.

In addition to use funds to support his workers, Simon uses profit from sandal sales to continue funding AYAN. The funds that Simon received through the entrepreneurship challenge will be used to set up his training workshop and hire new employees.

#NFSInvestsUganda

If you’d like to learn more about the “why” behind the Entrepreneurship Challenge, you may read an introduction to the project, as well as our project wrap-up and initial impact report here on the Not For Sale blog. For regular updated on our impact-focused projects aand programs around the world,  be sure that you’re signed up for our upcoming newsletters!

Entrepreneurship Challenge Profile: Benard

Meet Benard

This post is the second in a series of three, as we introduce you to the three top finalists from June’s Entrepreneurship Challenge with Not For Sale and brand partner Spence Diamonds. Profiles for our first place winner, Simon, and third place winner, Esther, are also available on the Not For Sale blog. 

A Piggery With A Purpose 

The second place winner in our #NFSInvestsUganda Entrepreneurship Challenge is Benard Ocaya! Benard entered the challenge to present an innovative business idea for a community-based piggery. Piglets are given to members of the community at no cost to care for and raise. When the animals are sold, they share in the profit! The overall vision for the business is to help vulnerable youth, widows, and families become self-reliant through training them in entrepreneurship skills and giving them an opportunity to support themselves.

Our Entrepreneurship Challenge judges and mentors were struck by the potential scalability and impact of this piggery. With its well-planned business model, hundreds of community members will benefit not only from the income their participation will ensure, but increased nutrition and access to education as well. Benard hopes that the business will also effectively fight illiteracy by giving families the resources to purchase the school materials their children need.

Orphaned as a child, Benard has overcome many difficult circumstances to become the successful young businessman he is today. His own story fuels his passion to support orphans within the Kyangwali Refugee settlement and neighboring areas where the piggery business is based and currently employing 54 people- 45 community members and 9 staff. The funding received through the Entrepreneurship Challenge will be used to grow and strengthen the business and employ more community members.

#NFSInvestsUganda

If you’d like to learn more about the “why” behind the Entrepreneurship Challenge, you may read an introduction to the project, as well as our project wrap-up and initial impact report here on the Not For Sale blog. For regular updated on our impact-focused projects aand programs around the world,  be sure that you’re signed up for our upcoming newsletters!

Entrepreneurship Challenge Profile: Esther

Meet Esther

This post is the first in a series of three, as we introduce you to the three top finalists from June’s Entrepreneurship Challenge with Not For Sale and brand partner Spence Diamonds. Profiles for our first place winner, Simon, and second place winner, Benard, are also available on the Not For Sale blog. 

Sewing Seeds of Change 

23 year old Rwandan Esther Mambolewo is our 3rd place runner up. A talented designer, She launched a fashion company to design & produce apparel out of Nakivale refugee camp. When we met Esther, she told us how she sells half of her food ration aid so she can buy six yards of cloth. With that cloth she can make two clothing items. 

Through hard work and sacrifice, she’s gained enough customers that she now employs seven young vulnerable women. With our investment funding of 4.5 Million Ugandan shillings, she plans to expand her business and employ more women.

#NFSInvestsUganda

If you’d like to learn more about the “why” behind the Entrepreneurship Challenge, you may read an introduction to the project, as well as our project wrap-up and initial impact report here on the Not For Sale blog. For regular updated on our impact-focused projects aand programs around the world,  be sure that you’re signed up for our upcoming newsletters!

#NotForSaleRomania Anti Trafficking March

#NotForSaleRomania March Against Human Trafficking

Over 500 youth participated in an anti-trafficking march taking place in several areas throughout Romania, shedding light on the exploitation that takes place within the country, and the lack of resources for survivors in a country with the highest number of persons affected by trafficking in the entire European Union.

Youth Mobilize For Anti-Trafficking Awareness

 Romania is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. That means that men, women and children are trafficked both into and out of Romania, making it a huge hub for exploitation. A large number of communities in Romania are affected deeply by poverty, lack of education, lack of employment, and corruption. Many people affected by sex and labor trafficking in Romania are promised a better life across the border.

 Educating the local community is an important part of the work that Not For Sale Romania does. Each awareness effort has the potential to prevent exploitation, so Not For Sale Romania speaks to parents and students at local schools and participates in community events.

 In the years that Not For Sale Romania has been holding awareness events, they have seen a positive increase in the amount of awareness gained. Several years ago, the topic of human trafficking wasn’t a common one. Today, many community members- especially the youth- are aware of the issue of human trafficking, and educated on red flags and how to avoid exploitation. Not For Sale Romania leads a youth awareness and anti-trafficking group which actively generates ideas to engage and educate others.

 It was this group of youth that came up with the idea to hold Not For Sale Romania’s first awareness march and flash mob. More than 500 young people participated, in several cities thoroughout Romania: Bucharest, Brasov, Baia Mare, Galati, Oradea, and Timisoara. 

In addition to this wonderful turnout across the country, the awareness movement created engagement on social media, garnering thousands of impressions. Supporters participated from other countries- Italy, Germany, Croatia, and more! 

As Not For Sale Romania director Martina likes to state, “The change is in all of us”. When there is a collective effort to raise awareness, all of our voices are amplified to create change.

Learn more about our Romania program here.  

Advocating For Change With Christmas Ornaments

Not For Sale supporter Claire Dickison proves that you can get involved and #InnovateForGood at any age! We’re honored to share Claire’s advocacy and fundraising efforts for Not For Sale as part of our #InnovateForGood Campaign, as we continue to share stories of how the innovators we admire show their creativity in fighting injustice.

As free beings with agency, I firmly believe that it is the public’s responsibility to refuse to turn a blind eye to the struggles of those trapped by the bonds of modern day slavery. I believe that God placed all of us on this Earth with a purpose, and calls us to “proclaim freedom to the captives and set the oppressed free.”

Ever since I first learned about human trafficking, I’ve made an effort to fight against this injustice by doing small things like throw out Halloween candy from brands known to use exploitative labor. However, I’ve always wanted to find a way to make a bigger, impactful contribution to the anti-human trafficking movement.

When a school project led me to research the work of Not For Sale, I recognized the value of the organization’s holistic and integrated impact model, made possible through its own initiatives as well as partnerships with businesses that practice ethical sourcing. NFS gives consumers like me the opportunity to support rehabilitation programs that give at-risk individuals and survivors a safer, brighter future.

I wanted to contribute to Not For Sale’s cause, so I made ornaments to sell at a Christmas vendor’s market and various churches to raise both money and awareness for the organization. The ornaments were clear bulbs, with a white feather and a red heart inside, hung on a short chain link. They were an effective way to heighten awareness about human trafficking while raising money for NFS. It was exciting to see how many people cared about the issue and wanted to learn more!
To make a difference, I now know that I don’t have to do something huge and complex. I realized I can foster change in my community through something as easy as selling Christmas ornaments. Focus on the importance of the small acts that you can do now, and the world shaking endeavours will come with time.

Now, my friend and I are organizing an awareness night featuring a speaker and the documentary Red Light Green Light. We’ll be selling baked goods to raise money for a local safehouse for survivors. Our goal is to bring about sustainable change in our community by letting people know of the reality of horrors that our brothers and sisters around the world face every single day, and showing them how we can help by supporting incredible organizations like Not For Sale.

Innovator aims for Microfinance For 5 Million Youth By 2020

Often the opportunity to #InnovateForGood stems from a small idea that grows to have a huge global impact. We love this story of how guest contributor Adellene Tanuri’s childhood school project has grown to impact thousands of lives through microfinance! 

Inspiration is Everywhere, Just Listen.

II grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia – a beautiful yet deeply conflicted city where two seemingly incompatible worlds of wealth and poverty coexist. I would look out my car window and would see lavish skyscrapers standing in the midst of slums. You can try but can’t possibly turn a blind eye to the street children knocking on your car window begging for some change. Change. That’s all they ever seek for – to be given the opportunity to change their life circumstances, change the futures of their families, and ultimately achieving a change that would grant them freedom from impoverishment. It is with this constant confrontation with that brutal reality of my home city that my ambitions began. The seed of my desire for change was planted in my heart when I was only 12 years old.

It all started in my last year of primary school when my teacher, Ms. Johanna, instructed us to choose a social issue to focus on for a community and service project. Naively, I came back to her with one word: poverty. Ms. Johanna wisely advised me to dig deeper so that I could create a more tangible action plan that would enable me to make a difference. Little did I know, that one piece of constructive criticism would improve the lives of 344,016 Indonesians through my mother’s organization YCAB Foundation.

Let me explain how that powerful domino effect came into play. It was the combination of curiosity, small actions, and my mother’s willingness to adapt and learn – even from her inexperienced 12-year-old daughter. When I followed Ms. Johanna’s advice and dug deeper into the issue with research, I stumbled upon organizations that were providing microfinance services as a way to alleviate poverty. At first, I felt like I was drowning with questions– What is microfinance? Small loans? No collateral? Since everything I read seemed foreign, I turned to my mom who at this time was already running YCAB – a nonprofit that aims to empower the lives of the youth through education. She volunteered to supervise my friends and me in our visits to local communities of women who were receiving these microfinance services. It was through heartfelt conversations with these women that inspired my mom to start the microfinance program in YCAB.
One hundred million Indonesians still live under $2 a day. A simple intervention of $50 could double their income. The true gift of microfinance is the restoration of dignity stemming from the trust given to these women that they are capable of transforming their lives through their own entrepreneurial spirit. This impactful economic empowerment program that is now integral to YCAB was born out of the humility of listening to the voices of local women in Indonesia and the belief that change is not simply a fantasy.

No one would have expected that a 6th grader’s community project would become the first step in the evolution of YCAB as a nonprofit to the social enterprise it is today. This year, YCAB’s premise of change was awarded by United Nations as one of nine innovative global solutions. YCAB’s approach is unique as it is a hybrid form of microfinance that ties access to loans with the condition of the attainment of education. In 2020, YCAB aims to touch the lives of five million youth in ten different countries.

This isn’t just a story about me nor is it about my mother’s commendable accomplishments. It is a testament to the great things that can happen when we approach social issues in a human and relational way – to always keep our hearts and minds open to learning from each other, even from those who are younger, vulnerable, and often marginalized. Eight years later, here I am, a third-year student in UC Berkeley, reminded once again by my 12-year-old self to be unafraid to take risks, show love and compassion, and to continue to be optimistic for the possibility of empowerment and change.