We are a jewelry company dedicated to education and economic development in African Mining communities.

We are a jewelry company dedicated to education and economic development in African Mining communities.

Serra Leoa
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are launching Fair Trade Diamonds to benefit people and communities involved in the industry and to improve the ethical practices of other diamond jewelry companies.

We seek to demonstrate that consumers do not have to compromise on the quality and beauty of a ring in order to ensure the safety and livelihood of the workers. For that reason, we invest all of our profits back into the communities in which our miners live, to build schools, rehabilitate and farm old mining land, and support adult literacy programs.

We seek to redefine the value of a diamond, translating a non-essential item into a more prosperous future for miners in Africa. We educate our consumers about the impact of their jewelry purchases and the importance of fair diamonds for everyone involved.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Sierra Leone just celebrated its 50th anniversary, less than a decade after hosting one of the most brutal civil wars in modern history. It is one of the ten poorest countries on the planet with a literacy rate of 35% and a staggeringly high infant mortality rate combined with low life expectancy. The people we support in Kono District, are all effected by diamonds, most are individual miners working for less than 1$ a day and living in bombed or mud homes. However the people are inspired to build a better country, the children and women are empowered by a strengthening education, and the health care system is making grand improvements. By keeping as much value of the diamond industry in the community itself, there will be greater opportunities to pursue education, economic development and environmental responsibility. On a larger level, we are working with the Sierra Leone Government to rebrand the country from a 'blood diamond' image into a Fair Trade Diamond image.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Clarity Project is redefining and rebranding the traditional diamond engagement ring. For too long, couples have felt concerned that their engagement ring decision might contribute to a corrupt and harmful system. They couldn't find a ring that combined their sense of style with their values. For too long, miners have been overlooked while their hard earned dollars are funneled into the wrong hands. There is clearly another way. We seek to fulfill the potential of this alternate path. by supporting education, development and environmental responsibility.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Clarity Project is a fair jewelry social enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of life for miners and their communities. What started as friends looking for a personal solution transformed into a much larger effort with the potential for great impact. Our goals are threefold: (1) Source the most fair diamonds and use reclaimed metals to create beautiful, timeless jewelry to match the top jewelers; (2) Support miners and their communities by investing 100% of our profits into non-profit organizations that build schools, champion education, and rehabilitate abandoned mines; and (3) Create a new type of business that makes accomplishing our first two goals possible.
About You
Organization:
The Clarity Project
About You
First Name

Shane

Last Name

Rogers

About Your Organization
Organization Name

The Clarity Project

Organization Country

, CA, Santa Clara County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, E

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

It was that time. Our friends were getting engaged, their fingers freshly adorned with diamond rings. With devotion and excitement, it seemed couples everywhere were purchasing beautiful engagement and wedding rings, revealing their timeless and selfless love. Yet we began to pick up on a common sense of frustration and helplessness. Couples everywhere were feeling concerned that their ring decision might contribute to a corrupt and harmful system; they were having trouble finding a ring that combined their sense of style with their values, and they wanted to be sure their hard-earned dollar was going to the best possible use. As we explored our options in greater and greater depth, we had an idea. So with typical optimism and resolve, Shane, Rachel, and Jesse – three childhood friends – set out to begin the journey

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

The Clarity Project measures success by the number of children educated, crops planted, and health clinics opened, rather than solely relying on market share and profits. During the first quarter of this year, we have been able to procure enough sales to pay for 3 teachers’ salaries and 50 students for the year at the Muddy Lotus Elementary School in Bongema. We have funded adult literacy classes for more than 100 people, many of whom lack any formal education as schools were closed and destroyed in the war. The first class of 10 women will graduate in November 2011. Before the end of the year we hope to contribute to several new and innovative environmental and microfinance programs.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

There are 2.4 million weddings each year in the US, a number projected to increase by 30% by 2026. More than 90% of brides receive an engagement ring with the average engagement ring price being $5,781 and on the rise. Bridal jewelry is a growing, $12 billion market. To meet this growing consumer base, The Clarity Project will work with local miners and international standards bodies (e.g., Fair Labeling Organization, Alliance for Responsible Mining) to create Fair Trade Diamonds. To keep as much value in the community as possible – that of a cut and polished stone — we will help support the creation of the first diamond cutting and polishing shop in Sierra Leone.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The largest obstacle for us as an organization is access to capital, and the largest obstacle to fair trade diamonds is connecting the demand to the supply. There are shovel-ready mines that could be opened if there were a strong and steady demand for their stones. Without a clear pathway from mine to market, the miners won't realize a steady income, and the cooperatives are likely to be forced to close, damaging the movement's viability as an alternative to conventional mining. Funding would allow us to invest in these projects and provide the means of connecting these miners with an established market.

Tell us about your partnerships

We are a proud supporter of their brilliant and inspiring non-profit partner, Shine on Sierra Leone (SOSL). SOSL is a human service foundation that provides education, mentoring and nutritional support to African mining schools.” With staff in both the U.S. and Sierra Leone, SOSL has most recently completed the first environmentally sustainable building project in Sierra Leone: a school. By doing so, SOSL is not only building a sheltered space for students to learn, but also training a team of sustainable builders.

We are a top scoring certified B Corporation. B Coporation’s seek to create a new sector of the economy which harnesses the power of private enterprise to create public benefit. This sector is comprised of a new type of corporation the B Corporation which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

Over the last several years we have been working closely with TransFair USA in a joint effort to bring the first Fair Trade diamond to market. TransFair is the leading independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. TransFair USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies offering Fair Trade Certified products and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages.

Explain your selections

Initial investments in the project all came from the three co-founders. However, the majority of our support has come from our customers. With limited access to capital we decided early on that the best way to support our project was to open our doors and start selling. And that’s exactly what we have done. Ever since we sold our first ring, the business has supported itself. However, as with any start-up, we have an endless list of projects that are only possible with external funding, or serious internal growth.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

As a large part of our brand is based on trust, we see thought leadership as playing a key role in our growth. We seek to publicly build credibility among a core group of influencers by directly contributing to the overall discussion of diamonds and mining. As this activist, truth seeking-spirit underlays our work, we started working with Green Business blog Triple Pundit and will continue to reach out to new sources with aligned values and messages.

At the heart of our organization, our goal is to create the system to bring the first Fair Trade Diamond to market. This speaks directly to the success of our supply chain as well as our ability to involve a national recognized third party auditing system to ensure accountability.

As we began to market and sell product, package design plays a major role. The Clarity Project sees it as our obligation to only use packaging that adheres to recycled/recyclable and cradle-to-cradle packages. We began development and tested our first round of packaging. All packaging will include environmental awareness messaging and explanation of how to best use/dispose of packaging.

As our market share grows and our visual identity and packaging solutions gain the attention of more eyes, we will want to consider and pursue new ways to enhance the brand generally and the visual language and packaging solutions more specifically. As our sourcing operations are more clearly defined and we can fulfill a larger demand, we will reach out to our consumer base more directly with advertising.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Inadequate transparency

SECONDARY

Restricted access to new markets

TERTIARY

Lack of skills/training

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Transparency inspired our name, The Clarity Project. Today, problems with verifying the origins of diamonds persist, international borders remain porous, and middlemen are as desperate as ever.

Restricted access to markets limits the number of channels available to these small-scale miners. There are shovel-ready mines that could be opened if there were a strong and steady demand for their stones. Small-scale miners often have limited education and very limited contact with international markets.

Lack of skills and training limits the number of jobs. There are more than two million people working in the informal artisanal (alluvial diamond digging) sector rely on demand for their livelihood. Investing in education is the most powerful way to empower these communities.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

TERTIARY

Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Having just returned from Sierra Leone, we are more hopeful than ever that we will be able to provide TransFair USA with the tools needed to launch Fair Trade Diamonds. By taking more ownership in the sourcing of our rough stones, we further differentiate our product and can have a greater influence over the overall supply chain.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

All of the above have played a critical role in the success and future success of our project. Without appropriate buy in from the Sierra Leone government, we would never be able obtain access to land. Shine on Sierra Leone, our 501(c)(3) partner has allowed us to focus on generating sales rather than coordinating lesson plans. Without like-minded for profit suppliers, we wouldn’t have a product. Lastly, because so much of our success is dependent on awareness, we have seized every opportunity to speak at the university level about our project and continue to work with graduate students to enhance our work and further our research.