Interview with Sarah Ray of Yobel Market
Tell us how Yobel Market first started.
While mentoring kids through Young Life, we had the opportunity to bring them to Uganda where they volunteered at a youth camp. Several of our Ugandan friends were so inspired, that they decided they wanted to start a Young Life group in their village, but wanted to raise all necessary funds on their own in order to do so. Their idea blew me away…they gave us handmade bamboo jewelry to sell in the United States with half of the profit returning to Uganda. Rather than being dependent on foreign aide, here was a man coming up with a business plan. Upon return to the US, people loved it; they loved the idea, the jewelry, and it was sustainable. We started selling at farmer’s markets, and every time we made a profit, we reinvested into other projects. Though I was waiting tables at the time, I realized I could actually do this. I had no idea in the beginning that this would become a full time project that we would give our lives to.
What does “Yobel” mean?
It is the Hebrew word for Jubilee, meaning; emancipation or restoration.
What is Yobel’s ultimate goal or mission?
Our heartbeat is to see communities dream for their future, a future of freedom and abundance. We want to empower them in a sustainable way to create their own change.
Why do you feel that Shining Light Pakistan is a good candidate for what you do?
Hearing what had already been accomplished in Northern Pakistan, I could see that there was already a foundation of empowerment with a strong team and local leadership who had a heart and a passion for their own people. They have the equipment needed and are already striving to provide a dignity and a future for women, so now with a little bit of training they will be able to multiply their efforts.
What will Yobel’s training entail?
We will break the sessions up into two parts. In the morning sessions we will focus on creativity, design, and understanding your market. During this time we will be practically creating products together as well. In the afternoon sessions the women will learn entrepreneurial skills such as dreaming an idea, market, business sills, pricing structure, promoting, budgeting and ethics.
What potential products do you see the women of Northern Pakistan producing?
From what we’ve seen so far, it seems that they are perfectly set up to be ethical clothing producers. We are going to be teaching them two dress patterns, and hope that they enjoy the process. They have phenomenal embroidery skills that we hope can be incorporated into all clothing, pillows, totes, and jewelry as their own trademark. Pakistan also has beautiful wool products that could potentially be made into coats and mens products in the future.
How will you be partnering with the Life Stitch Manufacturing Center in the future?
We are definitely hoping to partner with them to design for both their local and international market. We will work with them to design with our wholesale relationships in mind so that we can distribute their products here in the United States, and online.
What kind of success have you see through training in other nations?
As we’ve followed up with partnering programs in Uganda and India that have received our business training, we have seen over 30% of women have gone on to start their own businesses, and small industries had either doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their profits within one year. 30% of participants have started savings plans and put their children in school for the first time in their lives.
In one sentence, what do you hope to come out of Yobel’s training program in Northern Pakistan?
I think my greatest hope is to see these Pakistani women understand their worth and value, and use business and empowerment to be a apart of that.
Stay tuned for stories straight from Sarah, Julia, and the Shining Light team as they take off for Pakistan this week!
To check out more of what Yobel is doing around the world, visit their website at: http://yobelinternational.org or follow them on Instagram: username- yobelmarket. You can also stop by their adorable office/shop at 27 S. Sierra Madre St. Colorado Springs, CO 80903.