As a former teacher, there’s a special place in my heart for education. Like linoleum school halls, it’s a well-worn place, cracked and beat up by a world that doesn’t always acknowledge what I know to be true — education changes lives. Free access to education means access to potential, to power and the possibility of a better life. Soko, a global marketplace for ethical jewelry, acknowledges that a product may not change the world, but it could build a school that can. To that end, Soko has partnered with Pencils of Promise to offer a limited edition jewelry collection with the goal of raising awareness and funds for educational empowerment.
Soko has developed the first mobile phone driven value chain to connect artisans directly to brands, retailers, and online customers around the world. Working with nearly 1,000 artisans in Kenya, they produce modern, ethical jewelry handmade from sustainable materials. These artisans receive an average of 30% of profit per piece and increase their incomes by a factor of 4x on average within two months of joining Soko. These benefits, plus market access and training, support artisans (the majority of whom are women) and increase their access to education, better nutrition, and health care for their families.
Pencils of Promise (“PoP”) is a for-purpose organization that builds schools and creates programs with the goal of increasing access to quality education in the developing world. PoP has built over 300 schools to date (they break ground on a new school every 100 hours) and provided access to education to more than 30,000 children throughout Laos, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ghana. While these numbers are impressive, PoPs transparency also deserves accolades. After a project is completed, they continue to monitor and evaluate progress, rigorously measuring the return on investment. And that investment includes 100% of every dollar donated online because operational costs are covered through private donors, events and companies, earning them GuideStar Gold level among nonprofits. Pencils of Promise is a superlative organization providing transparency to donors and quality learning environments to students around the world.
The exclusive pieces evoking the PoP logo are handmade from natural and recycled brass by Soko artisans in Kenya. Soko offered to send me a piece and I chose the Soko X PoP V Studs. All of the pieces are deliciously minimal. The studs are simple, trend-proof, well-made earrings that play well with my minimal wardrobe. Take a look at the rest of the exclusive line. Soko is donating 20% of every purchase to Pencils of Promise to support schools in Ghana.