How the DAVIDsTEA + ME to WE partnership and ME to WE Artisans is creating an international network to empower women.
DAVIDsTEA and ME to WE team up to empower women on International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day, female empowerment takes the spotlight. While women march across the globe in support of women’s rights, this for-profit social enterprise makes a difference in a very simple, but very significant way. With a cup of tea or a beautiful beaded bracelet, ME to WE evolves the lives of women internationally.

To see how ME to WE Artisans and the DAVIDsTEA + ME to WE partnership works, we caught up with three women who together change the lives of women internationally.

Roxanne Joyal: Uplifting Women Through ME to WE

DAVIDsTEA x ME to WE and ME to WE Artisans are just two of the ways the for-profit social enterprise offers educational and career opportunities to women in Kenya. These two initiatives focus on shifting the perspective of female empowerment. Women can participate in this large-scale movement with the simple act of buying a socially conscious gift or a treat for themselves. Together, these simple, thoughtful purchases power a major shift in women’s lives across the globe.

“By purchasing ME to WE Artisan products, you support the artisans’ beading abilities and empower them to take care of their families through a career they love,” says Roxanne Joyal, CEO of ME to WE. “Women can easily become involved in this global initiative by learning about the cause and advocating for women’s empowerment even in the seemingly smallest of actions, such as purchasing a gift for a loved one.”

Each little purchase adds up to create major change. When ME to WE Artisans first began, it encompassed a small group of beaders in Kenya. Today, it includes partnerships with 1,500 Kenyan artisans.

“Through ME to WE, we help makers harness their artistic ingenuity, celebrate their heritage art form and provide themselves with an income,” notes Joyal. “For our artisans, partnering with ME to WE Artisans means every dollar she earns is a dollar that goes straight to her household, her children and her community.”

Marie-Claude Dessurealt: Providing Clean Water and Education for Kenyan Girls

While making the perfect tea isn’t easy, making a tea that lives up to the positive impact it has with each purchase is a little more daunting.

With the DAVIDsTEA x ME to WE partnership, the Canadian tea gurus offer a specialty tea and a line-up of products that deliver clean water to communities in Kenya with each purchase. In just one year, the partnership has provided clean water to 22,000 people in Kenya.

The herbal tea blend created by Marie-Claude Dessurealt, Head of Tea at DAVIDsTEA, and her team is fun, fruity and reminiscent of a melting cherry Popsicle, featuring apples, pineapple, hibiscus and cherry. Basically, it’s the perfect choice for tea parties or for a refreshing iced tea come summer.

While the fun childhood treat, a cherry Popsicle, inspired the flavour, Dessurealt notes that wasn’t what truly inspired her team: “Our inspiration really stemmed from the positive impact we make by partnering with ME to WE and we wanted to engage our tea guides and customers in making a life-changing impact. Increasing access to clean water in Kenyan communities means reduced illness, increased agriculture and the opportunity for girls to go to school, as they no longer spend so much time collecting water for their families.”

While the perfect tea is a very personal experience, this tea blend impacts women and young girls in Kenya on a very personal level by offering them education and the opportunity to act as community leaders.

Mama Leah: Changing Lives Through ME to WE Artisans

Although numbers measure ME to WE’s impact, hearing about how the partnership changed one woman’s life for the better truly inspires me. Maybe it’s just me—I was recently told I’m more emotional than others—but I broke into tears hearing about the life-changing difference ME to WE Artisans made for Mama Leah, Kenyan mama and ME to WE Artisan, and her family.

Relive the conversation we shared with her and hear the light in Mama Leah’s voice.

Elevate: Can you tell us a little bit about you and your family?

Mama Leah: I am a member of Kenya’s Maasai community and a mother to four beautiful children. I have been a proud ME to WE Artisan for the past five years.

E: What does it mean to you to be able to support your family with your beading skills?

ML: Being a ME to WE Artisan has changed my life. Since becoming a ME to WE Artisan, I have been able to support my family financially, send my children to school, gain access to clean water and buy a bungalow for my family. Before ME to WE, I was trying to sell my hand-made pieces at local markets, but I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. Now, I have a consistent income to support my family.

ME to WE Artisans means empowering women. Before ME to WE, I was spending a lot of time away from my family, travelling to local markets and walking hours to collect water. Now, I am a leader in my community and am working to support my family and community.

E: Have you been given other opportunities to help other women in your community and beyond?

ML: Before ME to WE, I wasn’t confident speaking in front of many women. Now, I help lead 1,500 artisans! As a leader, I have the opportunity to travel to other countries and share our artisans’ work globally.

For more inspirational stories from women taking control of their own this International Women’s Day, see Kristen Wood’s story of female entrepreneurship in the beauty industry, our interview with Olympians Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion or read how Sarah Elizabeth Richards made the choice to put power back into her own hands when it came to her reproductive health.

Photo credit: ME to WE