Collective impact of 500 hands

Soon after reaching their millionth-bracelet-sold mark, Cape Town-based social enterprise Relate Bracelets decided to take a look at the overall impact of the R17.5 million raised in funds so far.

When lives are being changed on so many different levels, exact numbers are hard to calculate – the following are estimates based on funds disbursed and approximate costs given by the organisations that Relate Bracelets supports.

If you bought an Amy Biehl Foundation stack of 10 bracelets, you helped approximately 9 children living in poverty to learn skills essential to developing into well-rounded individuals, who make positive life choices and become contributing members of society.

If you bought an Ikamva Labantu bracelet stack, you gave an orphaned and vulnerable child with literacy and numeracy tutoring, computer lessons, and an opportunity for mental stimulation. Another 10 Ikamva Labantu bracelets helped close to 10 women living in townships to become early childhood development carers.

A stack of 10 Shine Centre bracelets bought the new books needed to teach five children to read. If you bought 10 United Against Malaria bracelets, you protected 10 children from malaria, through treatment and the distribution of life-saving mosquito nets.

One Rotary SafeWater Project bracelet stack provided 1 540 litres of clean and safe water to families without local access to safe drinking water through LifeStraws, and five stacks have given a family of five access to safe drinking water for up to three years.

If you chose Rape Crisis as the beneficiary of your Relate signature stack, you helped one survivor receive a counselling session. Choosing ORT SA as your beneficiary gave one student a basic stationery set, helping to improve their life through education.

Relate cares about all life, and while human rights are a major focus, there are bracelets for the many people who care about nature and animals, too. Ten of the Endangered Wildlife Trust Dugong Project bracelets helped in the monitoring of 10 dugongs, supporting much-needed research into their population numbers and needs.

If you purchased an Endangered Wildlife Trust Rhino Project stack, you have supported orphaned and rescued rhino, helping to ensure the survival of their species, and an Endangered Wildlife Trust Wild Dog stack helped to collar 10 wild dogs, helping to monitor and protect their species, too.

Since registering as a trust in 2010, Relate Bracelets has changed lives in a myriad ways. It’s been able to do this through its uniquely sustainable business model, which sees approximately one-third of the bracelets’ wholesale price providing earnings and upliftment for the bracelet-makers, one-third going to the various non-profit organisations detailed above, and one-third covering material and running costs. This business model ensures that Relate’s work is transparent and 100% not-for-profit.

The bracelet-makers are young and elderly township dwellers. For the older bracelet-makers, it’s a fun social activity, and they are able to earn extra income to buy the things they need – some even use it to send their grandchildren to school. Relate supports the younger bracelet-makers through training courses, which allows them to increase their skills set, and eventually move on from Relate to achieve their career goals.

Says co-founder Lauren Gillis, “It’s incredible to see what has been achieved in this short time. It says a lot about the collective impact a simple idea can have, when ordinary people, who want to see change in their communities, get involved.

Social enterprises like Relate Bracelets are forging a greater path into the online space, and Relate Bracelets has been a frontrunner with its e-commerce site. This online store makes the bracelets easily available for purchase.

“Because of the collective impact of a million bracelets and all the people involved, being able to buy a bracelet offers ordinary people a tangible way to contribute to real change. We want to motivate everyone to be part of the tremendous impact the next million bracelets is going to have.”

Visit the online shop at www.shop.relate.org.za

For more information visit www.relate.org.za

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