Dsenyo Empowers Malawian Women in Style (+ Giveaway)

There is little in this world that makes me happier than seeing women empowered. More and more companies and organizations are working to provide empowerment for women throughout the world, but I am particularly impressed by Dsenyo.

Dsenyo is a wonderful organization that offers goods handmade by women in Malawi, including handbags, aprons and accessories that celebrate African textile design. They are using business to address social and economic problems there, and they follow Fair Trade principles.  Artist Marissa Perry Saints founded Dsenyo after living and working in Malawi in an effort to create opportunities for the women around her. In addition to creating jobs, Dsenyo donates a portion of their profits to community development projects in Malawi, and they have developed partnerships with various nonprofits to help them raise money for their causes.

Some facts about Malawi (directly from the Dsenyo site):

  • It is a small, densely populated country in Central Africa. It is located at the southern tip of the Great Rift Valley and is bordered by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania
  • Population: 14 million people
  • 14% of the population is living with HIV/AIDS
  • Life expectancy is only 43 years
  • 80% of the population live as subsistence farmers
  • Multi-party democracy since 1994
  • National languages are Chichewa and English
  • 1 in 10 children are expected to die under the age of 5
  • Women have six children on average
  • Malaria is still the #1 cause of death
  • Only 50% of females are literate compared to 76% of males

However, also according to Dsenyo:

  • Malawian women are creative, extremely hard working and eager to learn new skills
  • Gender equality is making progress (Malawi has a female Vice President along with several female Members of Parliament)
  • Awareness about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and how to prevent infection is increasing
  • Knowledge about family planning is improving
  • Families increasingly value education for their daughters, wanting to send them to school and are only limited by lack of financial resources

All of this is enough to make me a supporter of Dsenyo, but in addition to all this, they also make every effort to use low-impact dyes and sustainable fibers like hemp and organic cotton when they can. They compost their organic scrap material and repurpose textile remnants for use in other products. And to complete the life cycle of their products, they also have an “Old for New” recycling program, which allows customers to send back used Dsenyo bags and receive 10% off their next purchase. They reuse, recycle and compost materials in the old purses they collect.

And did I mention that their products are gorgeous? I am in love with their handbags and belts, and I think you will be too. Just take a look at the photos.

Why It’s Green:

  • Products are handmade and Fair Trade
  • Made of recycled and otherwise sustainable materials when possible, including low-impact dyes, hemp, organic cotton and recycled paper
  • Their “Old for New” recycling program allows customers to send back used purses in exchange for a 10% discount. The returned materials are reused, recycled and composted.

Price: Varies by product, but ranges from $10-135

Win a $25 gift card (4 winners)!

A couple of weeks back, eco-friendly short-term deal site Roozt had a sale on gift certificates to Dsenyo. I bought several of them, and I’m now passing that deal on to you. Four lucky winners will each receive a code for a $25 credit to spend at the Dsenyo website! With $25, you can purchase a market tote, apron, children’s bag, belt, and more — or you could put it toward the purchase of one of the pricier bags. Either way, you’ll be supporting the women of Central Africa and doing a good thing. The only catch is that the gift codes MUST be used before March 1, 2011.

There are several ways to enter:

MANDATORY ENTRY:

Visit the Dsenyo website and leave a comment here about something you liked or learned that was NOT mentioned in this post. (NOTE: None of your other entries will count if you don’t do this first)

BONUS ENTRIES:

  1. Like Green & Gorgeous on Facebook AND follow G&G on Networked Blogs. Then come back here and leave a comment with your Facebook name.
  2. Follow @greenyourdecor (ie. my alter ego) on Twitter. Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know.
  3. Tweet about this giveaway with a link back here, and leave a comment with a link to your status.
  4. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Green & Gorgeous email updates by 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, February 4, 2010. You must verify your email subscription to be eligible. Current subscribers must leave a comment saying that you are a subscriber to be entered.
  5. If you’d prefer to receive your updates via RSS, sign up for the G&G feed. Then please leave a comment letting me know that you’ve done so, and be sure to include your email address. RSS-only subscribers are anonymous otherwise.

You have up to 6 chances to enter, and there will be 4 winners! The giveaway entry period ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 4, 2011. Four winners will be chosen via Random.org and contacted via email by Monday, February 7, 2011. Good luck everyone!

NOTE: Dsenyo is in no way associated with Green & Gorgeous or this giveaway. I am doing this out of my own pocket because I believe in what they are doing, and I want to support their cause.

Follow Dsenyo on Facebook |  Follow Dsenyo on Twitter |  Dsenyo Etsy shop

By jennae

Hi! I'm Jennae Petersen and I'm the eco diva who had the bright idea to share my journey toward green living with the blogosphere. Some of you may know me as the founder of Green Your Decor, my blog about eco-friendly home decor, as a Walmart Mom, from Twitter or from my organic cotton t-shirt line Differently Clothing. Stick around for a while!

30 comments

  1. I’m so impressed with this company, from top to bottom. I love that they’re so eco-friendly while helping people in so many great ways. How cool that they even sponsor the Malawi Northern Region Women’s Soccer League!

  2. Incredibly cool work, and for such a great cause. I’m in love with the Swing Bags (by Quality Sewing using Tribal Textiles), Greeting Cards (by Ekwendeni Youth Center) & all the beautiful Fabrics (by Tribal Textiles). Thank you featuring their shop!

  3. Hi!

    I love the simple overview they give of Malawi, I think too often people think of Africa as a large country rather than a continent full of different people and different countries.

    Also my (alter ego) twitter and facebook profile is ReDirect Guide Portland, we are liking and follow!

  4. I found it interesting that women are considered to be the backbone of Africa because they perform the hard labor. Wow!

  5. I really like that they want to do home parties. You don’t see very many companies doing home parties anymore.

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