The 7 Stages to Sustainability (7SS) methodology was developed by Empowerment WORKS' founder in identifying a common, yet totally localized strategy for sustainable economic development in two very different African nations: Senegal - facing threats of food security, conflict and desertification; and Zimbabwe - facing the spread of AIDS and economic collapse.
Senegal - West Africa
In 1999, while conducting human security research in the war-torn Casamance Region in Senegal, EW's founder identified medicinal plants, textiles and music as economic opportunities. Uniting like-minded social entrepreneurs, local organizations and artists, EW produced an awareness and fund-raising compilation CD, Music of the Diola, supporting the development of local initiatives to preserve both the rain forest and their indigenous Diola culture.
Zimbabwe - Southern Africa
And in Zimbabwe, while on a sustainable development seminar in 2000, EW's founder met a group of young Zimbabwean artists working to provide HIV servicesin their high-density township of Mbare (with one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world).
With decreased tourism and economic collapse, they exported a container of sculpture to the US to raise program funds. Ultimately, this catalyzed the development of an artist-led HIV/AIDS Prevention & Orphan Care program, Julia's Home of Happy Colors - which continues to be supported by the sale of Julia's hand painted textiles. By honoring local will, serving as a catalyst for community-led social action, stimulating economic development, and addressing issues and needs identified by those they most affect, the EW model was born.
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