Part I: The Inspiration
My name is Sara Wroblewski, and I am a recent graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In the summer of June 2011, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Africa with my friend, Becca, and work at a recycled glass blowing studio, Kitengela Hot Glass, in Nairobi, Kenya owned by Anselm Croze. While there, one of our jobs was to come up with a fundraiser to help support a local school. Anselm had previously bought the students books, but most were stolen due to a lack of security. After this, he sat down with the principal and figured out exactly what it was the school needed. The answer involved the production of expensive, yet necessary projects such as building a fence, restrooms, installing electricity, and a permanent water supply.
Anselm dropped us off, and we spent two days working with and learning about the children at the Oloosirkon Government Primary School. From this experience evolved One Bead. The following morning, I pitched my idea to Becca, Anselm, and his wife Zorina. I wanted to make a bracelet. We decided to make a recycled glass bead. One half would be thick and one thin to symbolize the idea of having a lot versus having a little. In the center connecting the two halves would be an “O” for the name of the school that we were supporting. The “O” would also represent a circle of unity—the idea that there is something that binds us all together globally regardless of our different economic backgrounds. The bead would hang on a piece of leather like a small glass charm.
Part II: Beginnings
In the months following my trip to Kenya, I participated in and won ‘The Pitch,’ a $10,000 entrepreneur contest that required six months of strategic planning, marketing development, and public speaking practice. In the year following The Pitch, One Bead became an official 501(c)(3) organization with a working team and successful marketing campaign. Our beads are shipped to the United States from Nairobi, where they are put together into bracelets and then redistributed to over 60 representatives on college campuses across the globe. In 2012, we fulfilled our first goal by returning to Kenya and building a 923-meter fence that protects 350 students at the Oloosirkon Government Primary School. In addition to the fence, we coordinated a successful campaign that donated 400 lbs. of school supplies to students and teachers. To date, One Bead has raised over $60,000. Our organization maintains a 100% model in that 100% of the profits from bracelet and apparel sales go directly towards our projects in the United States and abroad.
Part III: The Future
Now, with over 60 representatives across the globe and 4 elementary school partnerships, One Bead is providing students with an invaluable opportunity to positively impact others. Using One Bead as an exemplar, we have developed a leadership program, One Life, that inspires elementary leaders by providing them with the knowledge, tools, and practice necessary to drive their own endeavors. At the college, high school, and elementary level, One Bead is proving that one student, just like one bead, can be a catalyst for change.