Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Serving Communities

I am spending some time journaling tonight, thinking about the reasons of why this apparel company exists. Like any business, or endeavor, we always start something with great intentions and visions, but the little daily things and the grind, and bottom line, easily cloud us, and bring us to areas that can lose sight of the big picture.

I spoke with a few friends in Chattanooga the past few days, and they were sharing about a factory in Ecuador. Villages in the country are often known for specific manufacturing, possible silver, or denim, or wood crafts. The villagers can often work in one area and specialize in products or processes.

He mentioned that a factory in one town is offering fare trade wages, and conditions for their workers, but are around 30% operating capacity. They are great at creating denim and corduroy.

I don't know when its feasible to offer jeans, and corduroy shirts, I hope soon. But I really had a vision in listening to the village of hoping on a plane, and walking through the town, and seeing the factory. The thought of giving back, whether it be helping to aid in production lines and helping salaries, or giving back by working on a project the locals need. But pouring into those communities. Serving and meeting their needs, as they work to meet ours.

The world is flat. And because of that, we have opportunities to reach out, and serve one another. When I was exploring a few months ago, unserved and unmet needs that were out in countries today, one of the areas I discovered was micro-finance. Helping serve the poor by offering them small loans to start new ventures and businesses. I was heading down that road, and very interested, when one friend at Excellence in Giving named Al said, "the problem with micro-lending is that 70% of people are just looking for a job, not necessarily gifted at starting something on their own. He said, if you really want to help people, in developing countries, own a factory, and employ people.

It was an eye opening thought. While I love new ventures and start-ups, the majority of people did not necessarily have those gifts. it made sense.

I dont necessarily see this company as owning plants or manufacture facilities, but I love the idea that maybe we can offer a few more hours of work to people in need. if that continues, we can offer a few more. maybe the best way to alleviate poverty was to offer employment, or work for them. but not just slave wages, but through good supervisors, and an honorable boss.

I was reminded tonight of that desire. to bring together the consumer with the manufacture. the people. for us to be serving one another, whether it be a living wage for a durable product. one exchange for another. we need to be more connected to each other.

I would love to see Buffalo & Company meet the needs of many people. and I hope in our social action and values, that be one of our greatest beliefs. capitalism and manufacturing and overseas production can be good for us all. and while I am quite the naive person, I look forward to getting on a plane to discover what part we could play as a company.

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