Social Entrepreneurs Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson Win 2014 Sargent Shriver Award
By Teniola Ayoola on Friday, May 16th, 2014
The Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service is awarded by the National Peace Corps Association to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who continue to make a sustained and distinguished contribution to humanitarian causes at home or abroad, or are innovative social entrepreneurs whose actions will bring about significant long-term change. The NPCA will present the Shriver Award at Peace Corps Connect in Nashville, Tennessee on June 21.
A Partnership that Started in the Peace Corps
The 2014 Sargent Shriver award goes to Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson in recognition of their entrepreneurial approach to fostering women’s economic empowerment. Since their days in the Peace Corps, Renae and Kristin have been involved in projects that give women the tools to provide financial security for their families. Together they founded Global Mamas, a community working together to create lives of prosperity for African women and their families. Using traditional techniques, the women hand-craft items, which are sold in stores worldwide and on the Global Mamas website. By producing and selling the products, the women are able to improve the health of their families, send their children to school, and save for the future.
Renae and Kristin became invested in the success of Ghanaian women as Peace Corps Volunteers over 20 years ago. They dedicated their three years in Ghana to making the women’s lives easierundefinedby setting up a women’s based credit union and building a water pipeline to Renae’s village (both of which are still operating today).
They returned to the U.S. in 1995, getting their MBA’s and finding jobs. But during that whole time they were figuring out how they could get back to Ghana to help the women that inspired them. Renae and Kristen visited Ghana several times, but it was never long enough. Finally, in 2003, Renae packed her bags and moved to Ghana to start Women in Progress (the original name of Global Mamas).
Growing a Socially Responsible Company
In ten years, Global Mamas has grown from six women producing batik clothes in Cape Coast, Ghana, to over 500 women in seven different locations. They still produce batik textiles, but also have established businesses in the recycled glass bead and shea butter industries. With an average annual sales growth of 66%, Global Mama’s sales reached one million U.S. Dollars in 2011. Their products are sold in nearly 400 stores in Ghana, the U.S., Europe, Asia, Brazil, and Australia.
Recently growth has slowed because production cannot keep up with the pace of demand. So Global Mamas has laid the groundwork for a new eco-friendly production facility, the Fair Trade Zone, which will increase production by 50% and provide 200 full-time jobs in a sustainably designed, green production center.
There have been over 400 volunteers, including five RPCVs, from 25 countries that have given their time to Global Mamas. Eight of these volunteers became inspired by the spirit of volunteerism and ingenuity in the organization and went on to serve in the Peace Corps (all finishing their terms of service).
Moving forward, Global Mamas is committed to continuing their impressive growth while keeping in mind what inspired them to start in the first placeundefinedthe tenacity of the Ghanaian women and the power of volunteerism. As their mission states, Renae and Kristin remain “united by a passion for the success of African women” with ” a focus on collaboration, innovation and sustainability.”
Please click on the link at the end of this sentence to see RPCVSF's letter nominating Global Mamas for the Shriver Award - - LetterGlobalMamas.pdf