Shake the World

Society & Culture | By Phindile Dhlamini, Social Activist | 22 November 2014

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead – Nelson R. Mandela

These words have given much inspiration in shaping my life to what it is today. Madiba’s selfless dedication and clear intent to “Shake the World” to influence positive change in light of the injustice that was taking place in South Afrika at the time, is nothing short of admirable to say the least. For me, this great Afrikan giant of our time also represents how one person can make a significant difference in the lives of many.

For as long as I can remember, I have volunteered my time to social development contributing in various ways to different humanitarian causes. When I began to realise that there is much work still to do not only in my country, but on our continent as a whole, and acknowledging that any contribution goes a long way to bridging the gap, I took the bold step to follow my heart and dedicate my life to being a part of the solution. As an Afrikan, I strongly believe that “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” – meaning “I am because we are” speaking to the values of unity and compassion for humanity.

I spend my days in the townships of Johannesburg witnessing, first hand, the rising levels of poverty around us. I spend my days with people seeking to access opportunities so that they can make ends meet in order to survive another day. Literally. I spend my days motivating and inspiring people to keep pushing boundaries despite their current circumstances or constraints. But most importantly, I always attempt to provide tangible support and solutions that allow people to stop looking at their discouraging reality and begin to imagine a better future for themselves. Sadly, this is not a South Afrikan challenge alone, but one that our continent is facing as a whole.

At Gracefully Consulting [GC], we believe in development at a community level to make a meaningful change that touches peoples’ lives directly. We are tired of seeing funders throwing money at communities with no thorough understanding of their needs. We are tired of seeing funders not focusing and addressing the root cause of the challenges that communities face, so as to assist in identifying feasible and sustainable solutions. We believe that this approach further disempowers our communities and continues to breed a sense of dependency, and in some cases, even a sense of entitlement to ‘handouts’.

As a business, we continuously engage government in their role towards contributing to social development interventions that positively impact communities. We work hand-in-hand with community projects that are making an impact to safeguard their community’s sustainability. Most importantly GC seeks to further understand the challenges that are being faced on the ground so as to introduce sustainable solutions that will empower people to help themselves. We work with corporates, to ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds are invested sensibly, and with the business objectives in mind. This ensures that the CSR Strategy does not stand in isolation, but that it is aligned and integrated to the organisation’s strategy and not a “once-off tick box approach”. We make certain that funds are channeled to community projects that are aligned to the organisations’ values and ethos. Or alternatively, we also design bespoke solutions that are uniquely fitted to organisations, and relevantly align social responsibility with the business’ objectives.

At GC, we believe in harnessing and employing the true spirit of collaboration so as to make great strides in creating significant, sustainable development in Afrika. We take pride in igniting passion in others and making them understand the relevance and importance of giving so as to enable us to create an environment that enables and promotes the development of sustainable socioeconomic solutions for our continent’s communities. In September 2000, building upon a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together at the UN Headquarters to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - that have become known as the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Shake the World - END POVERTY – is a global movement that brings awareness to the MDGs and aims to reduce poverty by primarily offering 8 colourful bracelets. We want to seize the momentum of the imminent end of the MDGs to demonstrate our results as best practice on how social-design-entrepreneurship partnerships can contribute towards socioeconomic development, reduction of poverty and achieving the MDGs. With over 450,000 bracelets sold worldwide, they also positively contribute to enhancing the arts and crafts industry by making “fair trade more fashionable, and fashion more fair trade”.  Ambassadors share their belief to “fight poverty with profit” and have handed over the bracelets to President Jacob Zuma to inspire his ambition to create jobs in South Afrika. Mere months to go until the deadline, 8 goals to achieve, it’s time to shake the world! GC is proud to be the Campaign Representative
in Afrika.

The MDG Report 2012: Assessing Progress in Afrika toward the Millennium Development Goals jointly prepared by Economic Commission for Afrika, Afrikan Union, Afrikan Development Bank Group, UNDP confirms that steady economic growth and improvements in poverty reduction on the continent continue to have a positive impact on MDG progress. Afrika has sustained progress toward several MDGs and the report suggests active steps to ensure that economic growth translates into new and adequate employment opportunities for Afrika’s youthful and rapidly growing population. The need to help drive growth, innovation and provide a clear competitive advantage was also highlighted. To do this, the countries of Afrika must invest in their greatest asset, their people – in particular, their growing number of young people – ensuring that they can be the productive, innovative, and engaged citizens who will help accelerate MDG progress and achieve sustainable human development.

Afrika! Ignite is a rural development agency from South Afrika that creates opportunities for women and youth in rural areas to improve their lives by earning a decent living, and acquiring useful skills. Since 2009 they have partnered with Shake the World in developing fair trade bracelets for global markets. Afrika! Ignite has an outstanding track record providing extensive enterprise-development support to hundreds of youths and adults, particularly women, across
rural areas.

The Campaign aims to ignite organizations to see how they can also contribute with their CSR strategies in place, where we are also able to offer a marketing opportunity for customised branding. These may be used as trendy corporate gifts presented to employees, consumers and other valuable stakeholders. This will go a long way in assisting us to further promote the Shake the World Campaign and spread the underlying message of empowerment. As one of our corporate partners once mentioned, we too strongly believe that “We all have to play our part to improve our society and to create a sustainable and prosperous society for all. We are proud to provide a platform to ignite our nation and have a significant impact towards women empowerment by creating hundreds of jobs”.

The target is to sell at least 1 million bracelets, and with that create sustainable job opportunities. Every bracelet counts and makes a difference. It is about every individual that is able to make a change in society. Poverty is increasing at an alarming rate and the MDGs are not yet met. It is our responsibility and duty to make our societies more sustainable by contributing to the development of our communities and create a better world for us all in the true spirit of Ubuntu. Many organizations, volunteers, schools, NGOs and business networks have joined the movement to END POVERTY now. The bracelets are currently sold in over 1,000 fair trade shops in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria and even in 10 Ben & Jerry stores in Singapore and online. We inspire over 450,000 individuals daily. We hope that everyday when they wake up, and start wearing the bracelet, they inspire others to begin to ask themselves what they can do to shake up their world and make a difference in their communities. No matter how big or how small.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”. Now I ask You, “How will you shake your world today?” Afrika! Ignite – whose very name calls for a rebirth or revival of our Continent - has paid more than R16 million to rural entrepreneurs since 2008, and in the past two years paid R2 million to rural women crafters. They were recently approved by the South Afrikan Jobs fund to establish more WOWZULU marketplaces, indicating that more people will be empowered and jobs will be created. Join the Movement, purchase your bracelet and let’s Shake the World together– one community at a time.

Join our journey and get your bracelets online at Twitter: @shaketheworld11