South Yorkshire crowdfunding campaigners' gem of an idea to celebrate International Day of the Girl

Crowdfunding Columbian sisters Elizabeth and Sara
Crowdfunding Columbian sisters Elizabeth and Sara

A UK Fashion brand, based in Doncaster and Rotherham, is celebrating the occasion by launching a bid to break beak Colombia's poverty cycle.

Picaflor's target is for just 8,000 benevolent backers, from 7 billion world population, to pledge $5 each.

Unique jewellery

Unique jewellery

The company has taken to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise $40,000 to try provide jobs for women in remote areas of Colombia, allowing their children to complete education, while helping protect endangered wildlife.

Backers, donating up to $5,000, will receive ‘perks’ ranging from trips to the country Colombia to meet artisan women working in the rain forest organisation to collections of seed-made unique jewellery.

Driving force behind is Cajibio born and bred company CEO Elizabeth Salaman and her sister Sara, who have experienced at first hand poverty and abuse females have to deal with daily in remote areas.

Aged 18 Elizabeth met UK national Stephen Salaman while he was holidaying in Colombia. After maintaining a long distance relationship for a while, they decided Elizabeth should join Stephen in the UK, where they married. The couple are currently in Colombia, visiting reserves and artisans who make the gems, whose brand they hope to make global.

Gem of an idea

Gem of an idea

Elizabeth has always had a passion for impoverished women and communities of Colombia while Sara was key in growth of a conservation organisation and set up project helping train women to make jewellery, predominantly using seeds from tagua - palm tree fruit known as "vegetable ivory" due to its similarities in feel and consistency.

Training the women gave them a sense of empowerment and earning a wage, which is something they normally wouldn’t be able to obtain without putting themselves or the environment in danger. The money they earned also helped keep their children in education, as most children have to leave education at around ten years old.

When the opportunity arose for Elizabeth to take over Women for Conservation project from her sister, and help to change the poverty cycle and positively impact the lives of so many women in Colombia, it was a dream come true.

In order to promote and market the jewellery, Picaflor was created and they have been selling the jewellery through social media and its company website.

The $40,000 raised will mean the concern will be able to provide training and employment for more women in rural areas of Colombia. That would enable the company to double its existing number of artisans to 40 women within the next 12 months. They would also invest in marketing and aim to create a global brand for the Picaflor collection of jewellery.

The funding would provide the business the ability to buy higher volumes of raw materials, packaging and also tooling, but most importantly help empower women in rural areas of Colombia, they will be able to implement hands on conservation projects and break the poverty cycle.

Elizabeth said: “We have been training and working with the women in Colombia for a few years and now we want to take the project to the next level and we are trying to do this through many donations through crowdfunding.

"Taking Picaflor to a global audience will empower these beautiful women, give them a sense of purpose, allow them to stand on their own two feet and keep their children in education. Doing this alone will help break the poverty cycle and protect the environment.

“My childhood was really painful and traumatic – it was a very abusive home – but one thing that was a positive in my life was my mum who was so talented. She loved to be involved in anything creative. Her job was to go into villages to work with the women and teach them skills to improve their lives, like different crafts and cooking.

"At the end of every course she did with them she would take me with her, and I saw first hand the impact my mum had on the women’s lives, and it was so clear how much they loved her. That was such an inspiration to me".

She continued: "Sadly my mum died very young and soon after, because of the difficulties at home, I ran away with my sister Sara when I was just 15. The love my mum had for those women stayed with me. It was like a seed had been planted in me.

“During those teenage years I drew up a plan of what I wanted to do with my life, and that was to train women in disadvantaged positions in some kind of skill that would give them a positive alternative and a source of income.

"In many of these remotes areas there is no government support, so some of them have to resort to things that are so harmful like prostitution, or trapping endangered wildlife for the illegal pet trade.

“We want to impact the lives of as many women as we can reach in these remote areas. We want to employ and train many more women to make our jewellery and put in place in-house training so that the women can in turn train other women".

Added Elizabeth: "We also want to educate them about their environment and how they can play their part in conservation and educate the children too. If we can impact the women, we can impact generations. That’s why we love working with women: because they have such a great influence in their families and in their community.

“A seed is all you need to sow a dream and this is where it started with Picaflor - a simple tagua fruit, helping keep Colombian women in employment. Hopefully our dream can come a reality with your help.”

Picaflor crowdfunding page can be accessed at https://igg.me/at/picaflorco/x/15065659 site.