“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
At some time or another, we will witness injustice in the world and be incensed, our fists balled in anger or our eyes filled with tears in sorrow. Yet, the question looms, “What can I do to change things?” After all, do we have the financial backing or the political clout to take on the woes of the world? For most, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’
That is what happened to Dawn Manske. “I was introduced to what is happening around the word in sex trafficking in a very stark way,” says Dawn Manske.
“I went to a lunch where they showed a video of an undercover reporter who went to Cambodia looking for the youngest girls he could find. They brought in these girls they said were 10, but who looked like they were maybe 7. It weighed heavily on me, but I had no idea of how to do anything to make a difference.”
However, some sandals and a pair of pants showed her there was a way.
“The pieces all kind of came together when I got married,” she explains. She found sandals from a company that helps women and girls in Uganda. That was Dawn’s introduction to ‘social enterprise.’ Her husband bought her a pair of the sandals as a wedding gift, which helped serve as a reminder about the possibilities.
Additionally, a bridesmaid brought her some fisherman’s pants from Thailand, one of Dawn’s favorite fashion staples. Dawn wore the pants as she and her husband were leaving on their honeymoon, and a TSA agent and flight attendant asked about them.
“That was the beginning of all these women noticing my pants and asking me where I got them. I started thinking, ‘I could start a little business importing them, because you can’t find them in this country.’ Then I thought, ‘I have four part-time jobs and just got married. Maybe I don’t need to start a business importing fisherman’s pants.’”
However, the more Dawn was complimented on her pants, and the more she learned about social enterprise, the more she wondered if perhaps there was a way for her to help. So, exactly six months after getting married, she registered her company, Made for Freedom.
“That was the beginning of figuring out what a business plan is and why I need one, and about financials. ROI? What are you talking about? You only need to talk with me for about 5 minutes to know I’m not the MBA-type. I never wanted to have a business.” Yet, that is exactly where she had ended up.
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