CEN eNewsletter - April 2011

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CEN eNewsletter - April 2011                                                                             Contact Us

In this issue...

Letter from the Director
From the Empowerblog: The Women’s Economic Empowerment Movement 
Our Values are Part of What Make us Unique
Update on CENs Couro Ecológico US Market Introduction Project
Oficinas Caboclas: CENs Newest Project Prospect 
Volunteer Spotlight: Allyson Fritz
How Your Support is Utilized
Upcoming Event: Rare Plant Sale, Ferndale, WA
How You Can Help
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Letter from the Director

BobThis January and February I traveled to Brazil to work with existing projects and look into new proposals. It was a very productive visit and I'd like to share some of what happened with you in this edition of CENs e-newsletter.

One of the chief objectives of the trip was meeting with the Banco da Mulher, a rotating savings group (ROSCA) that provided badly needed capitol to members of the women’s group, AOMT-BAM.  Currently, I'm working on a detailed report about the fund in order to add to our own arsenal of tools to use in other communities. This will also help other organizations learn from the group’s experience, in order to start their own funds. My goal is to hold a webcast you can tune into in May to hear more our findings and how it is a model for the region.

During the trip, I also worked to develop several other prospective projects in the region. The Oficinas Caboclas is a woodworkers’ cooperative from six communities who are looking for ways to expand their production and overcome organizational obstacles. The Juá Community Tourism project likewise is looking for ways to increase economic activity in their community with the economic, social, and environmental benefits of tourism. Through holistic community development, residents will be catalysts and leaders of development, rather than bystanders.  Please read more about the Oficinas Caboclas proposal in this newsletter.

As we expand our programs to new communities, we continue to strengthen our existing relationships.  We continue to work with Couro Ecológico to help refine their product line of backpacks, purses, and satchels, and to improve the process for placing orders. All of these items are made from “ecological leather”, a waterproof material made from overlaying the latex of a Brazilian rubber tree onto a cotton backing. As they continue seeking markets in the U.S., several of their products are now available to buy on the CEN website.  Our efforts have also made their products more attractive for US stores to order the products and we'll now work on finding dealers and facilitating the first few orders. Read more

While in Brazil, I also travelled to the community of Suruacá to meet with most of the participants in our former cCLEAR pilot to support their efforts to organize an Entrepreneur Group that will provide mutual support for their continuing entrepreneurial efforts. Several of the participants are still carrying out the projects they began in the pilot, which has significantly improved their family incomes. 

As we work to build new relationships and maintain old ones, it is exciting to report back to our base of support—you. I encourage you to take a deeper look at our progress, and the many ways you can be involved. Support our efforts by purchasing a growing number of cool items on our online store, join or support our team in the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon, or apply for a CEN Capital One Visa card. We value your continued support and interest in our work. It is an exciting time for CEN, and we look forward to the changes that will allow us to better empower communities to be self-reliant.

Bob Bortner

CEN Founder and Director

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RSS feed iconFrom the Empowerblog: The Women’s Economic Empowerment Movement is at its Strongest Point in History

by Danielle Bradford

Women EmpoweredWomen account for ten percent of the world’s income – sixty six percent of its workforce, fifty percent of its food production, and 1 percent of its property- ownership*. However, with more partners, supporters, and information, the movement for women’s economic empowerment is at its strongest in history. Movements around the world have been working towards for decades, the unity among separate movements to create one tidal wave is what makes this moment different, a breakthrough. CEN, whose programs develop basic life-skills, habits and mindsets to become more self-reliant, respond to the economic obstacles of women in the context of their communities. Read More>>

In each edition of the CEN Newsletter, we highlight one article from CENs blog, the Empowerblog. Click here to subscribe. 

* Source: Vital Voices Global Partnership website

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Our Values are Part of What Make us Unique

by Woody Ciskowski

At the heart of CEN’s work is our CEN is centered on the process of giving communities the skills and tools they need to succeed without distributing hand outs or prescribing a course of action. By learning alongside participants and letting them set their own objectives, we build cultures of empowerment. Read more>> 

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Update on CENs Couro Ecológico US Market Introduction Project

by Kelcie Prazan

rubber tapperRead about our continued work with the worker-owned Couro Ecológico, specifically our successes in strengthening the brand's identity and our ability to fill orders. In 2008, CEN organized a visit from Wharton School MBA candidates to advise and help improve the organization. CEN has also mentored two of the organization's participants in a joint push strengthen Couro Ecológico's leadership and sustainability. Learn about our new efforts to increase marketing and sales as we widen the impact. Learn more>>.

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CENs Newest Project Prospect will Give Oficinas Caboclas a Leg to Stand on

by Danielle Bradford

Oficinas CaboclasCEN is collaborating with Oficinas Caboclas, an Amazonian woodworkers' cooperative, to develop a project proposal and gain funding for their project. The skilled workers create sustainable, high quality items but are hindered by lack of transportation, organization, and infrastructure. CEN will use knowledge learned in the cClear pilot to replicate our pioneering work to help equip Oficinas Caboclas with better tools to succeed. Learn more>>.

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Spotlight IconVolunteer Spotlight: Allyson Fritz

by Catherine Bugayong

AllysonFritzThis week we highlight the volunteer work of Allyson Fritz, who has organized CEN fundraisers, coordinated CEN's writers, transcribers and translators, and is now in charge of many of the organization's day to day operations. Allyson has also coached an children's soccer team, worked at a drug and alcohol therapy center, and volunteered at an orphanage in Ghana. She hopes to work someday at an international human rights organization on refugee issues. Read about her and her work with CEN here>> 

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How Your Support is Put to Use

raffle drawing

Your dollar goes a long way. It builds a strong foundation for lasting and integrated community development and helps us partner with local organizations to strengthen their impact. It also results in up to a 250% increase in family income. Learn more >>

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Upcoming events iconUpcoming Events ...

Rare Plant Sale

Saturday May 7 andSunday May 8, 2011
Bob Bortner and Larry Straka's Home
1685 Grandview Place
Ferndale, WA 98248

Come by  the sale for a wide variety of rare, reasonably-priced, ridiculously cool garden perennials, agavetrees and shrubs from our own collection and other growers. Come tour our private garden and see the plants growing on site. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to CEN. The sale is conveniently located about 1 mile off I-5, about 90 min north of Seattle. More Info »

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Lend a hand iconHow You Can Help

Are you a Runner - or do know one? 

Join our team at the Seattle Rock 'n Roll Marathon and Half marathon!, June 25, 2011
Rock N Roll Marathon Seattle

It's an incredible experience and by joining CEN's team of runners, you will help raise awareness and funds for ending poverty, have access to FREE group training and individual training tips, as well as a  cool CEN team t-shirt! Hurry and register today because it's almost sold out! Learn more>>

Sign Up for CEN’s Capital One® Visa Card 

Your Money Works for You and Helps Us!
the censhop

CEN's Capitol One Credit Card CEN has teamed up with Capital One® Card Lab Connect to bring you specially designed CEN credit cards.  With every purchase, you can help build and expand our programs in the rural communities!

It’s a great credit card too, with low fees and no international transaction fees. Learn more>>

Visit our Couro Ecológico online store 

Sales from the site builds sustainable livelihoods in the Brazilian Amazon
Couro Ecologico Online Ship

Couro Ecológico's products are unique with their authentic Amazonian design and they're made out of sustainably harvested materials. These bags and purses are waterproof and durable, making them perfect for the environmentally conscious, artistic, or outdoor sport lovers. Visit our online store>>

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Bob Bortner 
AnnaMarie Terhaar

Contributing Writers

Ben Bernstein
Bob Bortner
Catherine Bugayong
Danielle Bradford
Woody Ciskowski
Kelcie Prazan

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