Students partner with Swazi youth

By Chelbi Mims
April 25, 2011

This past year, four Cabrini students, in conjunction with their ECG 200 course, partnered with Cabrini Ministries to build a business to benefit the young people at the Cabrini home for orphans and the vulnerable children in Swaziland.

Nikie McCabe, Dijana Ilic, Rita McKeown and Christine Beehler started their charitable business as a class project and now, after successfully raising money for their cause, plan to continue their work again next year.

“When we began constructing this business; our objectives included successfully fundraising for the launch of the business and then creating a business plan,” Dijana Ilic, sophomore marketing major, said.

Coloful braclets, made by ECG 200 students Nikie McCabe, Dijana Ilic, Rita McKeowm and Christine Beehler, are sold to raise money for Swaziland.

These four did this project as part of their ECG 200 course, People, Planet, Profits, taught by Dr. Erin McLaughlin, an assistant professor of business, who spent time in Swaziland last summer.

The business will allow Swazi youth to sell crafts in American fair trade markets through a website called Etsy.

“The youth of Cabrini Ministries, Swaziland will send their crafts to Cabrini College where we will run their Etsy account for them and ship the crafts to various buyers. The crafts include jewelry, toys, journals, bookmarks, etc. All profits earned will go directly back into the social business; there is no retailer or middle man involved to take away a percentage of the profit,” Christine Beehler, sophomore business major, said.

Youth in Swaziland have a very bleak future. They are forced to take care of their siblings and families and it is a constant struggle for survival. HIV/ AIDS has also plagued Swaziland and wiped out entire generations.

“Through Swazi’s Crafts for Care, we are constructing a social business that will guarantee sustainability in the lives of youth in Swaziland. The youth will become self-reliant and will have a way to earn a living for themselves and their loved ones,” Nikie McCabe, sophomore biology major, said.

The four women also held a fundraiser on campus to raise money for the start up of the business. They sold bracelets with the colors of the Swaziland flag. The bracelets were sold in March in the marketplace and are available in small, medium and large.

McCabe said with every purchase, the group gave away a pamphlet with information regarding the affect HIV/AIDS has had in Swaziland and the orphans and vulnerable children that need assistance immediately.

The group is now working toward moving forward with the business. They will help run the Etsy office with Dr. McLaughlin. They have set up an account with the business office for Swazi’s Crafts for the Care where they can keep track of their finances.

“We want this social business to grow to help the greatest number of children,” Rita McKeown, sophomore business administration major, said.

The four were also recognized for their hard work in a March 25 SIFE competition where they competed and took home trophies for “Rookie of the Year” and “Second Runner-up.”

“This competition is held every year, so we hope Cabrini College students participate each year and showcase their projects like our social business, Swazi’s Crafts for Care.” Ilic said.

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Chelbi Mims

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