Two years in the Peace Corps in Ghana post-college makes one naturally inclined to identify opportunities to help people in developing countries. Which is exactly what happened to Cissy Deluca, co-founder of Bersatu Designs. During her time in the Peace Corps, she was heavily involved in activities focused around income generation projects for women. One such project involved collaboration with a local NGO, Women and Development Project (WADEP), to train the women in her village on how to make and market soap and talcum powder.
Upon arriving back to the States, Deluca moved out to San Francisco to work in finance. In less than a year, Deluca switched industries to work at a small microfinance non-profit, Kiva. She spent four months in the office before boarding a plane to West Timor, Indonesia to work directly with the field partners and borrowers. Cissy moved to Bali permanently the following year to work directly with Kiva’s partners in Asia. It was in Bali where Cissy saw the beauty and culture of the island, but it was also where she saw the high levels of unemployment among the women living in her neighborhood. She became aware of the craftsmanship skills of some of her neighbors after learning they made leather straps for sandals, but for a very small wage. The opportunity to directly impact the lives of those around her seemed to present itself.
Cissy reached out to me to help start up the business and I took a trip to Bali to see the island and discuss the opportunity. What attracted me to Bersatu over other socially responsible companies was the fact Cissy was directly working with these women instead of remotely running the business. Having someone there helps keep the day to day business running smoothly and eliminates the delays of fixing issues that may arise.
I never had the chance to go to the Peace Corps, but I did live in and attend UC Berkeley. Berkeley, like a lot of colleges, placed a heavy emphasis on international relations and community services. I studied international law and relations, volunteered within the community and the urge to help people out nationally and internationally kept growing. I am the person who works remotely on the business, I ship out ordered products to the customers in the U.S., but I also feel comfortable knowing that Bersatu is being properly and ethically run and the women of Bersatu are being trained properly with skills they can always find work with.
Analisa Hightower is the co- founder of Bersatu Designs with a background in fashion, non-profit and healthcare. She places a heavy emphasis on community service and founded the non-profit Lola’s Foundation to help schools and shelters with necessary supplies. Follow Bersatu on Twitter and Facebook for updates on products and contests. Learn more about Guest Author Posts and how to submit your own article here.