If you tuned into the live broadcast of Help-Portrait on Dec. 4, 2010, you probably caught a glimpse of the sweet emceeing skills of Annie Downs, Help-Portrait’s events coordinator. Annie also works for a nonprofit in Franklin, TN, called Mocha Club and we wanted to share about it with you here on the blog. Elayna Martine is interning at Mocha Club and gives us a glimpse into their fresh approach to nonprofits and one of their fashionable initiatives that supports sustainable business for women in Africa. The line of scarves, called fashionABLE, has garnered support from music group Lady Antebellum and actress Minka Kelly.

Fashion Fuels Change

By Elayna Martine

Scarves and mochas. Who knew two of America’s popular vices could change the world?

fashionABLEfashionABLE reinvents the practice of making a bold fashion statement by creating a link between the drastically different communities of the economically privileged West and impoverished Africa. Fashion may be the art of self-indulgence, but fashionABLE uses the demand of trendsetting scarf-sporting Americans to tackle the issue of women at risk in African countries, namely Ethiopia.

African women who have previously resorted to dehumanizing practices such as prostitution to collect income and financially support their families are offered a new chance and a different opportunity. Through the fabrication of unique, handmade scarves, Ethiopian women reclaim their dignity by means of sustainable development. Each scarf carries the meaning of fashionABLE’s mission with a personal note from the Ethiopian woman who crafted the scarf and is an integral part in the cycle of the transformation and restoration of these women.

Channeling the material world and harnessing the power of trends to provide better lives, fashionABLE is a branch of the greater non-profit organization called Mocha Club. Founded in Nashville in 2005, Mocha Club uses the power of social networking to gather members and advocates for its mission to build a better Africa. Mocha Club’s fresh approach within the realm of non-profits is based on empowering its members to make a big change in a small way. How small? “$7 a month” small, or the cost equivalent of two mochas.

When the need of a continent is so daunting, Mocha Club offers a means to make realistic impact by practical sacrifice. Members personally choose which one of Mocha Club’s five mission projects their donation will benefit between Child Mothers and Women at Risk, Clean Water, Education, HIV/AIDS and Health Care, or Orphan Care and Vulnerable Children. Pick a project, start a team, and invite friends. Members have the means to track the impact of their donations through regular email and news updates.

Check out the overview video and get inspired in the “Make Your Fashion Statement” section of the site, where users upload a photo and description of how they rock their fashionABLE scarf.