Sandy is 22 years old, and lives in Mexico. She was raised in poverty, abused and neglected by her parents, and finally raised by her grandmother. They lived in a landfill community where most people sort garbage all day, every day. There were very few opportunities in life for her, and very little hope for change.
Then Sandy heard about Coca-Cola’s 5X20 initiative, and the training being made available locally in her area by an organization called Mitz. (You can read my account of Judy’s inspiring story, founder of Mitz, here: Helps Women Leave Garbage Heap for a Better Life.)
The Mitz Foundation offered to give Sandy training and employment creating hand woven bags and other artisan products, made from recycled Coca-Cola labels.
One day per week, Mitz taught Sandy a series of 9 lessons on weaving, and how to assemble a bag. By her own admission, she struggled with it, and the craft did not come easily for her. “They told me my bags were not such good quality”, she chuckles, as she recalls her journey.
Frustrated, she threw in the towel and went back to her job cleaning hotel rooms.
But apparently the seed of hope had been planted. The idea that she could do something different. Something that could lead to other good things in her life. So after 3 months went by, she decided to try again. She wanted to feel proud that she could conquer this thing, and accomplish what she set out to do in the first place.
Shortly thereafter, she completed her first bag that was good enough to be sold. She made 18 pesos. “Good. I’m on my way!”, she said.
The weavers earn different amounts based on the number of labels used to create the product. These bags and other hand crafted #5by20 artisan items have recently been made available for sale on Coca-Cola’s website. 100% of the proceeds goes back to the artisan.
Needless to say, in time she became much more proficient in the weaving technique. She produces the bags more efficiently, and has started earning and even saving some money. Mitz also balances their instruction of women in the #5by20 program with business classes, instructing them on topics such as money management and goal setting.
Sandy describes, “I fell in love with these products! It’s amazing what my hands can do.”
Now here’s the part that I absolutely loved…
I listened to Sandy’s video at the recent Art of Entrepreneurship event, telling her personal story of how rough her upbringing was, and how little she had to equip her to get the most out of life.
Then she discovers Mitz, learns to create recycled artisan bags, and starts to earn some money. When she conquers this, it literally opens her eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities. At age 22, now she’s set exciting goals for herself, and is planning to go to school, become a teacher, and help children in need. Sandy said,
“I feel like I can do anything. I want to be a better person, because that’s what the world needs.”
That’s it. That’s a real life example of EMPOWERMENT.
We frequently hear the term “empowerment” used as a buzzword these days. But this is what empowerment truly means. It means helping someone get to the place in their life where they feel POWER.
Sandy now feels she can truly do anything in life. And that’s a beautiful thing.
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Coca-Cola’s #5by20 initiative aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020. The program offers women access to business skills training courses, financial services, and connections with peers or mentors. Along with the resulting confidence that comes from their resulting achievements, such as developed for Sandy.
I recently learned about Sandy at the#5by20 Art of Entrepreneurship event held at World of Coke in Atlanta, GA. My travel and accommodations were provided by the company. All opinions are my own.