Business helps out in earthquake-hit India

Giving back has never been so glamorous, as two local business women combine their love for gemstones and philanthropy to help struggling artisans halfway around the world. Zavida Gemstones, a socially conscious online retailer offering handmade semi-precious gemstone jewelry from around the world, announced on July 7 that it had granted $23,000 to support the indigenous silversmiths of India who create some of Zavida’s jewelry offerings. The funds come as part of Zavida’s progressive business model that gives back 25 percent of its profits to struggling regions where its worldly jewelry and gemstones originate, plus private donations.

Under the “give back” endeavor, the company’s first project is the Zavida Silversmith Project in India, supporting the city of Bhuj, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 2001, in the state of Gujarat. The funds will go toward jewelry training, tools and microfinance programs to improve the lives of the silversmith recipients and their families. Further modernizing the program, funds are also being used to establish training courses for young girls interested in becoming silversmiths — a role traditionally reserved for men.

“This region was renowned for its artisans and traditional craft and jewelry-making skills, and they lost everything in the earthquake,” said Lee Gelb, a former Starbucks executive who co-founded Zavida to combine her love of gemstones and jewelry with her passion for humanitarian efforts. “The Gujarat silversmiths did not receive the same support as other craftspeople after the damage, and they are struggling to earn a living. Their art was disappearing, and we saw this as an ideal opportunity for Zavida to become involved and make a difference.”

In addition to giving back 25 percent of its profits, Zavida purchases directly from the silversmiths — typically at prices above local-market value, helping to further the silversmiths’ financial gain. Zavida then sells the silversmiths’ pieces as part of the many jewelry options offered on its Web site. The silversmith items — which are all handmade and incorporate ancient designs and techniques — include necklaces and earrings ranging from $20 to $60.

In partnership with two Indian grassroots nonprofit organizations, Khamir Craft Resources Center and Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, Zavida plans to continue the project year after year to help revive the region’s silver craft. The initial grant encompasses one year of profit sharing, supplemented by private donations, amounting to $23,000. As Zavida expands, it is actively working to implant at least one similar profit-sharing project in all global areas where it trades, including Asia, Africa, Central and South America.

Zavida’s complete gemstone jewelry collection is available at Zavida also offers in-person concierge appointments for local clients.

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