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Trade Initiative

Same Sky and the Miss Universe Organization

Same Sky is a trade-not-aid initiative which utilizes jewelry to effect change in Rwanda, one woman at a time. Founded in 2008, Same Sky aims to be a part of the global movement lifting women out of poverty by giving them tools to become entrepreneurs and lead self-sustaining lives. Same Sky is partnered with a local handicrafts center where Same Sky artisans are trained to create fine fashion jewelry.

Working in an artisan collective, women are free to discuss social issues of the day, such as handling poor nutrition, western medicine and domestic abuse. In addition, working in a supportive environment has allowed women to work towards reconciliation from the 1994 genocide. Outside of the collective, women are encouraged to take the beading skills they’ve developed to their local marketplace, providing further opportunity to sustain themselves and their families. To learn more about Same Sky, please visit www.samesky.com/pages/our-story

Same Sky artisans earn a wage 15 times the average wage of women in sub-Saharan Africa to ensure they can provide food, education and healthcare for their families. They are also provided with a transportation stipend and a hot meal daily so they are strong enough to take their HIV/AIDS medication. As a result, Same Sky artisans are not only helped financially, but they are also helped emotionally and physically. Employment has helped these women rebuild the confidence lost after the many traumas faced during the genocide and thankfully many have also seen an increase in their red blood cell levels and a marked improvement in their health.

The Miss Universe Organization has played a pivotal role in promoting Same Sky’s message of women empowerment and also works to bring attention to HIV/AIDS awareness and education globally. In June 2010, Same Sky's Founder, Francine LeFrak; Miss Universe 2009, Stefania Fernandez; and Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, made an official visit to Rwanda where they visited Same Sky's collective, met with President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame, participated in a Parliament meeting and paid their respects to the Genocide Memorial.

Same Sky is exceptionally grateful to the Miss Universe Organization for their commitment to empowering women worldwide and for their advocacy of “trade-not-aid” as an innovative and effective approach to alleviating poverty and helping women achieve financial independence.

To support Same Sky and purchase one of their beautiful bracelets made by women in Rwanda, please visit www.samesky.com.