Microfinance has done more to bolster the status of women and to protect them from abuse than any laws could accomplish, writes first Pulitzer-winning married couple Sheryl WuDunn and husband and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in their bestseller, Half the Sky. In it, they make a brilliantly simple and compelling case: Unlocking global poverty requires unlocking female potential with education and empowerment. For many Third World women, that's often as little as a $65 loan to buy the beads and cloth to start an embroidery business that will pay off family debts and feed starving children. But for the last four years, a Nashville company has taken a more involved approach to that concept. Fashion label KEZA recently began partnering with Rwandan women to bring their handmade jewelry to the States, and in the meantime, they've developed a profitable, sustainable business model. Now they say they have some 40 Rwandan mothers with lucrative careers, and this fashion show at Mai will premiere two new jewelry collections produced by Rwandan women. Their focus is on making high-end, high-quality goods so the productsand not Western pitywill drive the sales. Pity sells once, founder KEZA Jared Miller explains. But quality products sell over and over because people genuinely desire them.
Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m., 2009