Gifts That Give Back, Often In More Ways Than One

Each item, including boots from Guatemala, a basket from Rwanda and a soda can cuff from Kenya, are handmade. And when people buy these gifts, the profits go back to the artisans and their community. Courtesy of Teysha; Indego Africa; Serrv

Each item, including boots from Guatemala, a basket from Rwanda and a soda can cuff from Kenya, are handmade. And when people buy these gifts, the profits go back to the artisans and their community. Courtesy of Teysha; Indego Africa; Serrv

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this coverage of artisanal products that use materials that might otherwise be called waste, all of which channel resources to where they are most needed, a topic we never tire of reading about:

After you’ve seized all the deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it’s giveback time.

Today is Giving Tuesday, the day that asks people to donate to a good cause. This online campaign was created three years ago by the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center in New York, with the support of a slew of partners, including entrepreneurs, philanthropists and the United Nations. The idea is that you can kick off the holiday season by donating your money or time. At least $32.3 million was donated on Giving Tuesday 2013, according to a survey by the trade publication NonProfit Times.

But if you’re still in an acquisitive mood, there are ways to shop altruistically. There are nonprofits and even companies that sell handmade products whose profits go back to artisans and toward community projects in poorer countries.

Some of these small businesses were started by entrepreneurs looking for more than a financial profit; others have been around for years, working with craftspeople in some of the poorest countries in the world. Some look to empower underprivileged women in male-dominated societies while others help youth develop skills for their future.

So for Giving Tuesday, we’ve put together a list of gifts that’ll make more than one person happy. Some are handmade and in limited supply, so if you’re looking for a way to give back, order soon.

Guate Custom Boots (Teysha, $200 – $270)

First you choose one of five styles. Then pick from a selection of traditional colors and patterns from the town of Pastores, Guatemala, known for its leather goods. A team of men and women make the boots to order. That takes about 8 to 10 weeks. If you’re ordering for Christmas, the organization will send a freebie to put under the tree – a handmade Mayan gift bag with a card previewing your boots.

Backstory: The founders of shoe startup Teysha wanted to avoid mass production. Instead, the company, whose named is the Caddo Native American word for “friend and ally,” works directly with Central American artisans. The goal for co-founders Sophie Eckrich and Travis Breihan is to provide income for indigenous communities in Colombia, Panama and Guatemala as well as to keep alive traditional sewing and shoemaking skills that have been passed from generation to generation.

Teysha. Courtesy of Teysha Boots

Photo Courtesy of Teysha Boots

Double Shot and Tumbler Gift Box (Three Avocados, $35)

You’ll get two 12-ounce bags of coffee beans — one from the mountains of Uganda and the other from Nicaragua — along with a plastic travel mug.

Backstory: Three Avocados is a nonprofit that sells coffee beans grown on the extinct volcano Mount Elgon, which sits along the Uganda-Kenya border. They sell from their website and also work with e-tailers like Amazon and small shops. Between 50 cents and $3 of every bag sold goes toward projects that provide clean drinking water in Uganda. The organization also started selling coffee beans from Matagalpa, Nicaragua, last year; the group’s first project is to provide school supplies to students in the village of Las Nubes as well as room dividers to teachers so they can split one large room into smaller sections. And what do avocados have to do with all this? The name was inspired by the generosity of a widow met by founder Joseph Koenig on a trip to Uganda. He says that she gave up three avocados — all the food she had at the time — to pastors passing by the village of Bulopa.

Three Avocados. Courtesy of Three Avocados

Three Avocados. Courtesy of Three Avocados

Read the whole story here.

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