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WM Spotlight: 31 Bits

By February 16, 2010Uncategorized

With a little bit of paper,
you can share a whole lot of love

What is the mission of 31 Bits Designs and how have its creative’s ideas helped the women of Uganda?
31 Bits Designs Northern Uganda is designed to empower vulnerable individuals to rise above poverty through maximizing creative abilities and generating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. In the 31 Bits program, the women earn an income that allows them to provide for their families, receive financial and savings training, and maximize their creative skills and abilities. We strive to build a loving community that cares for individuals’ spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs.

We value:

Love: Because love stems from Christ and is a catalyst for positive change.

Equality: Because equality promotes dignity, respect, and self-worth for all people.

Hope: Because hope is the belief that something good can and will happen.

Honesty: Because honesty demonstrates integrity and ensures trust and transparency with all participants.

Quality: Because a quality product is created with the utmost excellence.

Growth: because growth allow us to dream of what the future could look like; and as a result, continuously be implementing new and innovative ways to improve the quality of the organization and of the lives of participants.

What inspired the work of 31 Bits and how did it start?

31 Bits began in 2008 when five college students from Southern California traveled to Uganda and met six amazing women. The girls saw there was a need for change: the women needed shelter, food, medication, school fees for their children, and the list continued…. The women attempted to provide for their families by creating hand-made jewelry, but due to the lack of market, their income was hardly sustainable. 31 Bits was formed when the girls knew they could make a difference; they had to do something to partner with their new friends. 31 Bits now works directly with the women in Uganda, enabling them to make a better life for their families by providing a market for their jewelry. 31 Bits has grown for partnering with 6 women to 35. We are excited and ready to expand and continue to change more lives.

How did 31 Bits gets its name?

The 31 comes from Proverbs 31, which speaks of the beauty of a woman that sustains and provides for her household. We think it describes our ladies perfectly! 🙂 The Bits stands for bits of paper.

Tell us about where 31 Bits Designs is based out of?

We are based out of Costa Mesa, CA.

31 Bits follows a model of social entrepreneurship. Can you tell us about this business approach and how it is designed to help others?

Most of our women have had very little, if no, education. In Uganda, education is everything. If you’ve been educated you’re taken seriously, you’re respected, and you have the opportunity to get a solid job. So besides providing them with a sustainable income every month, we also provide them with English lessons, financial trainings, bank accounts, etc. We don’t want our women making beads for the rest of their lives; in the next couple years they will graduate out of our program and start their own businesses. Some have dreams of starting their own hair salons or dress shops, and we couldn’t be more excited!!! It’s so empowering for them… these are jobs they thought they could never have!

What parallels do you see between the mission of WM and 31 Bits?

Wonderfully Made is all about finding your value and worth… It’s about empowerment, seeking God’s best for your life, and discovering hope for the future. 31 Bits parallels this exactly. Obviously our program looks very different, but ultimately this is our prayer for our women as well!

Tell us about an unusual experience 31 Bits has experienced in Uganda?

It’s a tremendous honor to be invited to spend the night in someone’s village. When one of our ladies asks us to come with her, it usually means a long boda (dirt bike) ride out to a rural village, heaping bowls of local food, singing, dancing, and sharing a mat and blanket with our host… always an adventure!

How has the word compassion impacted 31 Bits?

One of the definitions for “compassion” is: the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it … This is what we’re all about! The jewelry is amazing- it sells itself. But the heart and core of why we’re doing what we’re doing is because we have been impacted and driven by compassion. We’ve been blessed by the opportunity to live life with our ladies for the past year and a half, and see their hope grow, their smiles get bigger, and their lives slowly change. God is so faithful! 🙂

If the team of 31 Bits could share one message with today’s modern what would you say?

We encourage girls to step outside of their comfort zone… We’re five young girls that know nothing about running a successful business in America, let alone in Uganda. But somehow God is using us in ways we never imagined! Travel, dream, get a group of close girlfriends together and pray about how God can use you. It could be as simple as serving in a soup kitchen once a month, or as radical as a trip to Uganda!

What are the future ministry dreams of 31 Bits and are there any upcoming events that Wonderfully Made could be a part of?

We are always praying and dreaming over the future of 31 Bits… We have a couple more sandals that will be released with Reef in the next couple years, and have opportunities of collaborating with other companies and organizations as well. Our women are our heart, so we hope to travel and spread their stories more as well! As far as events, we’ll keep you posted… We’ve got some things in the cooker 🙂

Click here to learn more about 31 Bits Designs.

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