EMILY (MLE) founder+director
I am a visual storyteller.
My life, work and passion have always revolved around two things: photography and social impact. As a photographer and social designer I have always had a strong desire to create powerful, beautiful visuals, but I have equally been driven to make a difference in the world around me.
The spark for MLE Empowering Apparel ignited in me when I was working with refugee children in Baltimore, MD (USA) and created EMPOWER EMPATHY, a curriculum to create cultures of empathy in schools. As a byproduct I created a t-shirt with the name of the project. I learned quickly about the POWER OF A TSHIRT! It was an incredible conversation starter. I wondered how I could use this power to create change, to encourage people to live life to its fullest, to DARE people to chase their dreams and ideas and make them a reality. I prototyped, prototyped and prototyped some more. And voilà here we go: MLE Empowering Apparel. I am soooo thrilled to see this coming to life!!
TEES GONE PLACES
These are all the places our tees have reached so far...4 continents. 11 US states. 13 countries. 37 cities and counting!
OUR INSPIRING + EMPOWERING FRIENDS
The reaching out of hands needs no scale of measure, all it takes is just one move!
IDANCE was born out of one move, one move to reach out to a community in need. I heard of several reports of infant and maternal mortality in Cameroon, in the 3rd quarter of 2015, it felt like raining season, only this time it was the tears of many. Many reports of lives of babies and mothers lost, families grieving and seeking help. I could not bear the thought of staying in this community and not doing something, or anything. It could be small, it could be big, the measure was not important. All I had to do was make the move and I did.
I am a fan of the saying "what you have is what you give” but in addition I say never underestimate the power of what lies within you. Moved with passion and determination, the concept of IDANCE was conceived, I shared with the concept with friends of like minds, and the journey began. We worked very hard, extremely hard for people/lives unknown, if only we can help save one child, one mother, one life was all that mattered. This was the beginning of a beautiful journey we know today.
In 2016, after the first edition of IDANCE. I visited the regional Efoulan hospital in Yaounde, together with Ole (she is a key support and drive in achieving all that IDANCE is today), we were privileged to access the delivery room where we witnessed a woman in labor, though in pain, she smiled so gracefully when she heard the heartbeat of her child. We all heard it, I heard it, I had tears of joy, to witness a change, an immediate switch from pain to joy, IDANCE made that possible. The purchase of a simple fetal doppler made such a huge difference. It gave strength and courage to a mother to overcome the pains of labor and embrace the vision of holding her bundle of joy in no time. I knew immediately, I had to go on. We can take one more move!! That’s all that mattered, another move!
If we all make a move, one move, not waiting till when we believe we have all it takes, not waiting till we can qualify, quantify or measure its outcome, daring to reach out as a seed that sprouts, breaking open the ground without the measure of space or height, truly we would achieve more dreams and visions than we ever imagined.
On the International Women’s day 2014, as I was sitting in an audience listening to a speech given by a female Turkish novelist about creativity in our everyday life, my life changed. That speech had a tremendous effect on my self-confidence and as I got out of the room, I was filled with inspiration. When I arrived home, I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about this new inspiration of mine: create my own charity with the aim to support women entrepreneurs, all around the world.
Why women, why entrepreneur? For me it made sense, as a working woman, that I wanted to support and help people I could identify to. I couldn’t wait to develop this more, I needed a name and while I was running the following day, the name came to me: sparkles! I could easily picture the sparkles in the eyes of the person who would be receiving a loan to boost her business, and I could definitely see the sparkles in my own eyes upon granting this loan to a person who was living thousands miles from me!
A few weeks later, sparkles.lu was born and a month later, the charity had raised its first fund and financed its first loan. It was simple, easy, exciting and magic. This simple idea had an exponential effect: each month, their repayments are used to finance new loans in developing countries.
Our micro loans range between 100 to 1000 USD. The amount depends of how much money those women need to boost their business. Some need to buy milk to make cheese; others want to buy gels and creams to sell in their beauty salon. Some need to buy corn and a griddle to make and sell tortillas; others have to buy a sewing machine to start their tailoring business. Most of our brave entrepreneurs are mothers, sometimes single mothers. The funds which we raise are lent with 0% interest to women entrepreneurs
Until today, sparkles.lu has financed almost 100 women-owned initiatives in 15 different countries! We are proud to join our forces with MLE Empowering Apparel in order to help African entrepreneurs!
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