Some women are driven to make the world a better place and Stacey Edgar is one of them. Fueled by her commitment to help provide economic security for women in need, and $2,000 from a tax return, she grew her small, kitchen-based company into a million dollar enterprise that now works with thousands of women all over the world.
Stacey outlines her experience in her newly-launched book, Global Girlfriends, and proves to women and men everywhere that while business acumen and college degrees may help start and run a business, she feel that you can do so much more if you’re willing to work hard for your convictions.
Statistics can be paralyzing – focus on the person and impact
She fully recognizes that sometimes the weight of the world’s ills are just too heavy to undertake. The statistics are staggering and often paralyzing. What can one person do? Can we each really make a difference in the lives of others who have so very little? Stacey responds with a resounding yes.
“I can feel overwhelmed, especially when visiting a country where the need for opportunity is great, but I try to stay focused on each individual woman we partner with and the concrete changes I see happening in her life,” Stacey days.
She provides an example of an order she placed with a very small sewing group in the Congo which was the largest order the group ever received.
“We ordered about $12,000 worth of dresses, skirts and tote bags as a test for our retail website,” Stacey adds. “With this seemingly small amount the women were able to buy land using the first half advanced deposit we sent, and they started building homes (very, very small homes) in this safer area where they could also bring their family members who lived in more war torn areas of the country with the final payment. This is what I focus on. Each woman who gets water directly to her house, or sends her child to school, or has enough to feed her family is what drives me and should drive each of us. You can make a difference even if it’s one person at a time – your actions may mean the world to that one person.”
Bring your children along to developing countries
What I found particularly striking is how often Stacey’s children accompany her on her visits. As someone who also travels to developing countries, I know firsthand that taking children with us on those trips can add an entirely different layer to the experience.
In one part of the book, Stacey talks about seeing Guatemala through her son’s eyes and she admits that sharing this entire experience with her family has been a great gift for her. “My family has put up with a lot over the eight years since I founded Global Girlfriend like cereal for dinner, mom traveling, a basement and garage full of products where their bikes and toys should be, so taking them with me gives them a chance to see how their sacrifices make a difference for the women I work with and their families,” she says. “Aside from that, it’s just more fun to share the experience with the people I love most.”
Take the First Step
Not everyone needs to start a business to make a difference, either. Stacey recommends people start small and about something they truly care about, whether it’s working with women or a cause that means something to you.
“If you like to run, I suggest you Run For Congo women,” Stacey suggests. “Show up at your kids school events, reach out to local organizations in your area that need volunteers, organize a Dress for Success clothing drive or a food drive with your girlfriends. Choose a fair trade purse or cup of coffee and you will have touched a life. Start small and see where it leads you.”
In her book she offers five steps to getting involved and a list of resources for helping women. She’s also launched a book club challenge on her website asking book clubs and groups of friends not just to read my book but to read it and then take some action together. There she will be posting stories and photos of what girlfriends can do together on her blog.
Investing in women is obviously at the core of what Stacey’s company and book is all about and she wants her readers, customers and supporters to feel connected to the women of the world and see them as in dividuals with dreams worth investing in versus just poverty statistics which can make it too easy to ignore or make any movement.
Consider reading the book, sharing it with friends, or making it part of your next book club reading. Can you image the ripple effect if we all took a minute to even do one thing to help make a difference in the life of a global girlfriend?
Megy Karydes is founder and owner of World Shoppe, a fair trade company that works directly with artisans in South Africa and Pakistan. She read the book in less than a week and it’s already dog-eared.