Philanthropy Friday: Investing in Women is fashionABLE

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

Every day I wake up and make my short commute down the stairs to my home office, I am thankful for the opportunity to work for myself.

I have always been able to find work when I need it. When I decided to start my own business, I had a supportive network to help me become successful.

I am aware how lucky I am to not only have the opportunity to work, but to work on my own terms.

While living in Ethiopia, Barrett Ward saw how extreme poverty was forcing an extraordinary number of young girls and women to make awful choices to earn money. To address this problem, he created a business that would give them a job so that they could be empowered with opportunity, not dependent on charity.

fashionABLE was launched on October 25, 2010 with a powerful mission:

The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself. Through your purchase, you are ABLE to provide opportunity, and a woman is ABLE to have a new choice.

fashionABLE sells beautiful hand-woven scarves and leather goods made in Ethiopia to create sustainable business opportunities for Africans.

The strategy with fashionABLE’s business model is two-fold. fashionABLE helps create opportunities for vulnerable women by helping them start small businesses. They also require manufacturers to employ women with fair wages and fair hiring practices.

This beautiful 2-minute video really says it all.

Amazing things happen when you invest in a woman.

All of fashionABLE’s products are named after the heroic women they work with and comes with a note saying what she is “ABLE” to do because of your purchase. How cool is that?


Each of FashionABLE’s beautiful products are named after a woman whose life has been changed by your purchases on the website. Pictured is Seble and the “Seble” scarf.

fashionABLE’s original partnership has grown from 3 to 30 women who hand-weave scarves. With fashionABLE’s leather launch, they partnered with a manufacturer whose workforce is made up of 40 women out of 70 total employees. In keeping with their mission, they keep the manufacturing in Africa to further help end poverty and dependence on outside charity.

If you didn’t catch the stat in the video, women spend 90% of their income on their families, while men spend 30-40%. Investing in women and giving them jobs has an exponential effect on their children’s health, nutrition and welfare.

To celebrate its third birthday, fashionABLE is offering 30% off everything in their online store. While today is the last day of the discount, your purchases make a difference to vulnerable women in Africa year round.


 How has a job helped a woman you know flourish?

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  1. says

    What a wonderful company and a great mission. Like Bev said above, it’s so empowering for these women. YES!! Lucy has recently discovered the beauty of scarves (and I have always loved them!!). I cannot wait to check out their online store and do some shopping–for both of us. What a win-win. –Lisa
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  2. says

    I love the concept and I really love that when you receive the scarf you get a personal note about how your purchase has helped a woman! What a great company!

  3. says

    I love the concept of this business! I think that they may have sponsored a contest at Alt Summit last year or something because I remember hearing about them. I think it was a design contest but maybe it was a similar organization.

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