Trade with social sense

What it is about?

Who are we: We are the Foundation «Help Us to help», created in Bogotá by Fabio Ramirez Cortes a naturalized Swiss citizen of Colombian origin, the principal aim of which is to support and assist struggling single mothers eking out a living for their families in the emerald mining communities of Coscuez, Quipama and Muzo in Boyacá, Colombia.

Our story

The idea of the project arises when Fabio retires from his work from an international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, and wanting to apply the experience acquired in that organism, he decides to help the communities living in a very precarious way in those mining areas of the central region of Colombia. To that end he organizes the informal miners of these municipalities in a cooperative called Coomultraquipama.

The conditions of work in the region are extremely harsh and a good number of single mothers working in the emerald region are particularly vulnerable and by extension, their families as well. The mothers have no choice but to take their small children along during the arduous hours spent sifting for emeralds or hunched over cutting stones for a mere pittance. There is very little money to go round and older children need to go to school and eventually, to learn a trade if the poverty cycle is to be broken.

In order to enable and assist the women and families in these communities progress from a situation of extreme precarity to better themselves, financially and socially and to give them back their dignity, Fabio decides to set up the social enterprise project «Emeraudinne Ethical Jewellery» with the support of The Coomultraquipama Cooperative.

Fabio returned to Switzerland seeking employment so as to be able to finance this stage of the venture. Unfortunately, as a result of the financial crisis and partly due to his age, no doubt, he found himself drawn into the spiral of the unemployed, of countless job searches and reinsertion training.

The contact with others in the same predicament, however, gave him the idea of bringing together unemployed Swiss nationals from the jewellery sector and the members of the Coomultraquipama cooperative in Colombia.

He had hit on the idea of a joint collaborative initiative whereby a fair trade jewellery line designed by unemployed professional jewellers in Switzerland would be created using stones received through the Coomultraquipama cooperative in Colombia. At every step, this would be an initiative that targeted the common good and would be based on profit redistribution and fairness with the objective of long-term social and environmental impact.

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Our Project: Social enterprise initiative

The jewelery brand of the company, «Emeraudinne - Ethical Jewelry» is based on the principles of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. It will operate in a supportive environment and will be based on fair wages.

Phase I

The first part of the project will focus on furthering the development of the production and commercialization of an ethical jewellery line made in Colombia.

The training for future stone-cavers and stone-cutters will continue in collaboration with the (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) SENA. We aim to put the miners and stonecutters of the Coomultraquipama cooperative at the very helm of their destiny.

Phase II

For the second half of the project, we will be seeking to create a workshop in Switzerland for local unemployed jewellery designers who wish to join our collaborative initiative and create a jewellery line. We will focus mostly on using mature unemployed jewellery designers but will also be able to take on graduates seeking their first work experience in the jewellery sector.

We offer the opportunity of creating a strategic alliance with unemployed professionals capable of bringing their own personal experience to the project and their salaries in the first instance, would be covered by Swiss organizations such as unemployment insurance agencies.

In both Phase I and II, the semi-precious stones used in the framework of the project will be extracted and cut by the small-scale miners and stonecutters of the Coomultraquipama cooperative. The members of the cooperative will have control of the flow of raw materials from beginning to end with no intermediaries and greater financial gain for themselves.

In order to ensure the quality of the stones, we are grateful to the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaie (SENA) in Colombia which will handle training in the cutting and polishing of semi-precious stones. This training will be for 30 people (20 women, 4 men and 6 adolescents).

It is projected that the initiative as planned should be self-financing within 18 months.

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How will your support help?

Our total budget is approximately CHF 60,000 With CHF 34,000 we can start the first stage of the project. You will help us to finance the following expenses:

-Purchase of a 3D printer and Design CAD software for the design and creation of our beautiful jewellery and ethnic accessories.

-Development of a simple and functional website for the online sale of our products

-The management of training and workshops (processing, cutting and polishing of semi-precious stones) for artisanal miners in collaboration with the National Training Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, SENA).

-Purchase of raw materials and provision of decent salaries beyond the base salary

-Travel and accommodation with our suppliers and direct partners (Coomultraquipama cooperative), in the mining region of Boyacá in Colombia.

-And more….

Why is your support so important?

With your support we will be able to improve the living conditions of several families while allowing them to add value to their resources in a sustainable way.

EMERAUDINNE - ETHICAL JEWELLERY is a project with a positive impact on society, which is why we are convinced that thanks to your solidarity we can begin this entrepreneurial adventure.