Congratulations are in order for Carmel Jud, the founder and executive director of Rising International. Carmel won one of the six $50,000 grants for Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change. The awards were presented by The Los Altos-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers. The competition received over 200 entries from the Northern California community. What’s more the award was presented by none other than Bill Drayton himself, the very man who coined the term “social entrepreneur”.
Rising International was the first to use direct sales or house parties to market the crafts handmade by women survivors of war, rape and human trafficking. They train American women and teens to launch social businesses, and at each house party they tell the artisans’ stories. After hearing these stories, guests moved by empathy sign up to host their own parties and Rising International grows exponentially, while the craftswomen generate a sustainable income.
I’ve only known Carmel for a few years but she has a very kind and generous way of making you feel like an old friend. After reading of her award I asked for an interview and here is what she shared.
Q: How does it feel like to win such an award?
A: I’m honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization. And I was so happy to hear later that we were given the highest scores for innovation for using the direct sales model.
Q: What will you do with the grant money?
A: The winnings will go to expanding our teen social entrepreneur program. We hope to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley and use their facilities to train teenagers to run their own businesses. We encourage the buddy system so it’s working out that kids from all kinds of backgrounds are working together.
Q: Where is Rising International headed? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
A: We want to expand (helping women to create a source of income) across the nation to different areas hit especially hard economically such as Detroit. Their neighboring community is very affluent so Detroit could be an opportunity for growth.
Q: What’s been the hardest part about getting where you are today?
A: It’s the funding issue, resources. You see so much you can do and want to do. You’re always faced with genuine need, your life can be consumed by it and wanting to help. The hard part is not becoming overwhelmed by it. Some days I’m very optimistic about the work we’re doing and on others I’m doubtful. The focus has to be on all of the good we’re able to do and have done. Seeing that good as it manifests itself in real life helps keep us going.
Q: On a personal level, do you feel like you’re making a difference? In what ways?
A: I’ve seen incredible transformation on the local level – women believing in themselves again. I’ve met many that have lost their self-esteem because they were beaten by society or (people they were close to) close ones. We ask our sales representative applicants, “Why do you think you want to do this?” Some of these women are living in real economic hardship and their answer is, “I didn’t know I could help other people.”
Seeing women recapture their self-esteem and believe in themselves again; to watch that spark come back as it happens right in front of you is so amazing.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what your house parties are like?
A: We watch the news and feel powerless about doing anything to make things right. We go on without a course of action. These parties offer an immediate opportunity to create change and it’s not about spending a lot of money. Some items cost only $6 but there is something about taking a step toward the betterment. It puts one in motion so there’s a sense of empowerment.
The parties don’t feel sales-y either. It’s a sense of coming together as a global community in a living room. The guests start talking about where they’ve traveled and what they’ve seen and in an indirect way all the world’s women are given a global voice, presence. We bring the world together in your living room.
To learn more about hosting a Rising International party you can contact them at: 831.429.RISE (7473)
For general information about Rising International, www.risinginternational.org
For interest in becoming a Rising Representative: http://risinginternational.org/contact-us_new-rep
For interest in hosting a Rising Home Party or Catalog Party http://risinginternational.org/home-parties
If you’re interested in Volunteering for Rising, http://risinginternational.org/contact-us_new-volunteer