Fair Trade Made In Uganda

Blog Post #2

Economic side of Consumption/ Commercialization of 31bits


Fair Trade Made In Uganda

 blog post 2


31bits offers a whole range of products in which consumers can choose from. On the website the product categories include: Necklaces, Bracelets, Headbands, Earrings, and Bags.  The prices range from $10 all the way up to $67. They are found in retailers all over the United States, including our very own PLNU bookstore. 31bits prides itself on making jewelry with materials that only come from Uganda. According to a CNN.com article, as of February 2013, 31bits has raised more than $500,000 dollars through product sales that they have been able give back to the Ugandan women.

Another fact about 31bits is that all their products are fair trade. According to the Fair Trade USA Organization, fair trade is defined as a “product that is socially and environmentally sustainable” (http://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners). This begs the question, does the label “fair trade” have an economic impact on the consumer when they are purchasing a product? In an article titled, “Young Female Consumers’ Intentions Toward Fair Trade Consumption” by Yoon Jin Ma, Mary Littrell, and Linda Niehm, the research indicates that it does. They surveyed 810 females, ranging from ages 18-28, asking about their beliefs on fair trade and if it plays a factor in whether or not they purchase a certain product. In the responses there was an overwhelming response affirming the impact of fair trade. 31bits is able to reach that target audience by labeling their products “fair trade”.

Other than being fair trade how does 31bits separate itself from other companies who make jewelry and have the same type of mission?

31bits is not the only company making jewelry out of recycled paper and trying to empower the women of Uganda. For example, there is Beads for Life and Beads that Build. In particular, Beads that build is another fundraising initiative that through their sales of hand made jewelry allow an orphanage in Uganda to sustain itself (See their story here).  What makes consumers want to buy from 31bits and what separates them from these other companies from an economic aspect are their designs. An article from The Fashion Philanthropist confirms this,

“I have seen other companies that sell jewelry made out of the same type of beads and with similar missions, but what sets 31 Bits apart for me is how well designed everything is. I would honestly wear every piece of jewelry that they sell. They have everything from simple bracelets to gorgeous statement necklaces, and each piece of jewelry has a beautiful color scheme.”

With the relatively low prices and proven great designs it seems like a no brainer decision from a consumer point of view that they get the best economic value when they choose to purchase 31bits products in comparison to other things on the market.


Go buy those bracelets and boost their sales to help empower the women of Uganda!


Fair Trade Made In Uganda

31Bits & Uganda’s Trading Industry

Blog Post #3

Economic Side of Distribution/Trade/Transport


When looking at the statistics of how much the United States imports from Uganda it is actually surprising. In 2013, the United States actually imported 47 million dollars worth of products from Uganda.  This graph provided by the United States Census Bureau breaks down how much money was imported from Uganda to United States for each month in 2013.

blog post 3 image

Uganda’s trade laws are broken down into two categories: Traditional and Non-Traditional. 31bits would fall under the Non-Traditional category because it is considered a “Manufactured Product”.  According to the Uganda Export Promotion Board, manufactured products account for the most value that is being exported from Uganda in the Non-Traditional Category.  So although it may seem that the production of jewelry might be a small business venture, in the grand scheme of things it accounts for most of Uganda’s exportation.  Also, with the passing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000, it allows countries like Uganda to benefit from trading with the U.S. The AGOA is designed to help promote trade between the U.S. and Uganda and provides benefits for companies exporting their products from Uganda to the U.S. In an article published by the Daily Monitor, it specifically mentions 31bits and encourages them to keep trading with the U.S. and keep tapping into their markets. 31bits is proving itself as an economic factor in the trading between the U.S. and Uganda.


31Bits & Uganda’s Trading Industry

Can the production of 31bits really have an impact on Uganda’s economy?

Blog Post #1

Mickey Dunleavy

Economic Side on Production of 31bits


Can the production of 31bits really have an impact on Uganda’s economy?

image blog post 1

According to the 2014 Economic Freedom Index the population of Uganda is roughly 35.6 million. To put that in perspective that is almost the same population as California. The main difference between the two is that in Uganda almost 1 out of 4 people are living below the poverty line. (World Bank) This is mainly due to the dark cloud that hovered over Uganda. That dark cloud was the devastating war that traveled through East Africa. The war led by The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader, Joseph Kony, caused carnage throughout the region. In 1996, the government of Uganda forced 1.6 million people into camps that provided protection and refugee. As the years went on, and after the devastation passed, people were allowed to leave and head back to their villages. But as people returned to their village they were hit with the reality of limited education access and employment options. With that harsh reality, the people of Uganda were left with little room to make sustainable lives. According to the 2014 Economic Freedom Index, Uganda scored an economic freedom rate of 59.9 which ranks 91st in the world. With those uninviting statistics it is apparent that Uganda needs all the help it can get in terms of organizations providing sustainability for the Ugandan people.  Among the hardest hit are the women of Uganda, which is the focus of this blog post.

31bits is an organization in which women in Uganda make bracelets out of resources found in the area. 31bits empowers the women of Uganda by providing an income for them. 31bits also provides financial education, micro-finance opportunities, and business training. These programs provided by 31bit give the women the tools to be sustainable and are intended to make a dent in that terrible economic freedom ranking.

Manuel Ellis and C.M. Blackden shed light on the economic disparity of women in Uganda with their article “Gender and Economic Growth in Uganda: Unleashing the Power of Women.” Their research reveals that women account for 80 percent of unpaid workers. But research shows that Ugandan women are more than capable of being entrepreneurs, and actually contribute significantly to the labor force of Uganda. But what is holding the women back are the barriers that are unfairly put on them. Those barriers include the inability to enforce the rights of women and the lack of knowledge that these women have on their legal right to form businesses. 31bits is doing their best to overcome these inequalities by educating the women through their various programs.

In terms of production, 31bits uses raw materials to make their bracelets. These raw materials include recycled paper. The recycled paper that is used to make the 31bits products are found in Kampala, Uganda. The economic impact that it is having in that region is huge and is highlighted in Shiana Shealy’s article, “Her Hands: Images of Craftswomen in Uganda, Bolivia and India.” The article looks into case studies in which women who have never had a bank account, now are able to open one and within 6 months will hopefully be able to afford their own house.


Fox Business even did a TV interview with the two of the founders of 31bits. In the video it goes into further depth of how the production of their products are deeply impacting the economics of Uganda. The video touches on the fact that the women are paid the equivalent salary of a Ugandan teacher and the organization is currently employing about 100 Ugandan women. It puts into perspective the role 31bits and their products are having on the economy of Uganda especially in regards to women.  In my humble opinion it seems like the production of 31bits bracelets are indeed helping the Ugandan economy. They are doing their part in lowering the disparity of economic freedom in Uganda. The production of 31bits is the business model that organizations must follow to drive up the Ugandan economy and help more people there rise above the poverty line.


Can the production of 31bits really have an impact on Uganda’s economy?

Made in the USA

After September 11, 2001 Hallmark witnessed an increase of 5-7% in greeting card sales. After the largest attack on America, Americans were more than willing to support the “All American” card company. In response to the tragedy, Hallmark quickly created cards tailored to the event to fulfill the sorrows of the nation. This strategy also led to the donation of over $1 million to relief efforts, furthermore securing a deep bond with the American people. (Jackson)


The consumption of greeting cards is based off the sentimental emotion each card provokes and changes in meaning from person to person. Card companies such as Hallmark, have developed a responsive and sympatric business appearance to its customers. It is no wonder, the company generates over $4.1 billion in annual revenues. This company plays on the power of human emotion and is apparent from the aesthetics of cards to the commercials of family sharing memorable times together.


Greeting cards are a gauge of society and provide interpersonal communication between one another. In the year 2010, over 5 billion cards were produced, printed in over 30 languages and sold in over 100 different companies. This American company has delivered to a targeted audience far beyond its borders. (Cacioppo)


Hallmark digital is also a major factor in card consumption and makes up a majority of the companies sales. Together in alliance with Mailing Services of Pittsburg, over 250,000 cards can be produced and sent in a single day with over 99.9% on time delivery and accuracy. (Seybold Report) Hallmark has shown to keep up with its online demand, and has set the bar for card production, allowing consumers over 10,000 customizable products that can be delivered straight to the doorstep.


But it cannot do all this work alone. Consumers can easily and conveniently purchase cards from major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, and other large corporations that all carry Hallmark products. Cards range from 50 cents to $10 creating a price point for ever consumer.

From an outside perspective, is the exploitation of emotion a legitimate business or is this another story of a manipulative corporation making billions? Hallmark may have fooled us with its message, but our consumption patterns play right into their hands.

Consumption: Economic


Automated Workflow Delivers On-Demand Personalized Greeting Products for Hallmark

Digital. (2013). Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 13(21),


Cacioppo, J. T., & Andersen, B. L. (1981). Greeting Cards as Data on Social Processes.

Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 2(2), 115-119.


Jackson, K. (2005). Psychological First Aid: The Hallmark Company, Greeting Cards,

and the Response to September 11. Journal Of American Culture, 28(1), 11-28.

Made in the USA

Mass Producing the Personal

There are an infinite number of ways to let a loved one or friend know you care with a personalized greeting card. But is that same message still portrayed in the same light after you know the fact that very person paid between 50 cents to $10 for a card that is mass produced in a factory than can process over one million cards per week? Did you know that companies such as Hallmark have conducted extensive research into how to mass-produce the personal greeting card? Cards that portray cursive or print that looks like handwriting have been shown to sell more. (West) Also, greeting cards that appear to be homemade are much more effective in selling “I love you” cards and create an increased sentimental value to a gift that is attached. (Jaffe)

“Greeting cards are viewed as a measure of society, which represent a unique interpersonal communication between people.” Like communication in its modern form, the greeting card has shifted to technology take over where the Hallmark factory can produce over 250,000 cards per day, while evoking emotion in every card and product. (Seybold Report)


The social aspect of this, is that jobs are lost within the company located in Kansas City and have been replaced by computers. Although mass production of cards is only possible through advanced technology, the $4.1 billion company has eliminated jobs in the production and distribution areas to generate more profits! When is enough, enough? Where do the moral boundaries get crossed? Production of cards appealing to emotions, family, and loved ones, while eliminating jobs that help families stay together and provide support.

So the next time you receive a greeting card from a friend or family member, take a look at the aesthetics of it. Does is compliment the message being portrayed? If so, Hallmark has done its job in mass-producing emotion and sympathy and taking your money!




Automated Workflow Delivers On-Demand Personalized Greeting Products for Hallmark

Digital. (2013). Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 13(21), 2-6.


Cacioppo, J. T., & Andersen, B. L. (1981). Greeting Cards as Data on Social Processes.

Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 2(2), 115-119.


Jaffe, A. (1999). Packaged Sentiments: The Social Meanings of Greeting Cards. Journal

Of Material Culture, 4(2), 115.


West, E. (2010). A taste for greeting cards: Distinction within a denigrated cultural form.

Journal Of Consumer Culture, 10(3), 362-382.


Mass Producing the Personal

Living in the Future: A “Personal” Job for Computers

A greeting card can capture the essence of any moment or achievement with a personal note from one to another. However, within the last decade, the production of personalized greeting cards has greatly shifted from manpower to being computer run. Does this change in process take away from the term “personalized” greeting card? How can a personal card be created and mass-produced by machine?


Since 2008, Mailing Services of Pittsburg has partnered with Hallmark to produce up to 500,000 cards per day! This astonishing feat is made possible by the latest computerized processing system that links MSP together with Hallmark Digital, that receives, prints, and sends products directly to customers. (Seybold Report)


 21 steps are required to produce a card ranging from 50 cents to $10 and create a price point for every consumer. But how does this price reflect the resources required to create that perfect greeting card?


By setting the trend of increased technology within the print industry, mass production and efficiency capabilities produced by computers has drastically cut the demand of labor jobs, triggering a rippling effect that has spread into Latin America. As Latin America’s GDP begins to grow, countries now find themselves caught between advanced nations and emerging ones. (Silgado) However, companies within the printing industry in Latin America cannot account for the latest technology capabilities that American company Hallmark implements. Digital printing advancements have taken a great toll on companies unable to keep up with trends in this highly globalized world we now live in.


It is survival of the fittest within the global print industry that has large companies such as Hallmark, eliminating competition in other parts of the world. This technology take over paints a picture similar to rural Latin American coffee farmers being marginalized by large corporations such as Nestle. What does this now say about the “personal” card, mass produced by computers and eliminating jobs for the working class?



Automated Workflow Delivers On-Demand Personalized Greeting Products for Hallmark

Digital. (2013). Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 13(21), 2-6.


Silgado, C. (2013). The Printing Industry in Latin America in 2014: the Challenge of Achieving Sustainable Growth. Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 13(24), 2-5.


Living in the Future: A “Personal” Job for Computers

World-Traveling Cards

World-Traveling Cards

Blog post #6

Anna Ver Beek

Once again, my brother’s birthday is days away and I am woefully underprepared. Living thousands of miles away from family can make it difficult to communicate my love (at least not in a timely manner. After class, I stop by the bookstore to see if I can find a card written just for an eightteen-year-old-future-engineer-cycling-racquetball-player-who-grew-up-in Honduras. Dinosaurs with party hats? Maybe five years ago. A surfing dog? Not relevant. I wander away from the racks, deciding that maybe a well worded e-mail is the best way to celebrate with Noah. To be honest, though, it’s not just the sappiness of the cards that made me walk away; I’ve become increasingly aware of and frustrated by the overuse of disposable paper products in our day to day lives.

Did you know that United States and China are just about tied as the top producers of CO2 in the world? This despite the fact that China has 5X the population of the United States? One of the biggest contributors to these horrifying statistics is America’s ever-increasing use of disposable products, one of those being paper.

Making disposable paper cups, napkins and greeting cards (among thousands of other paper products) is intrinsically harmful to the environment. Trees are often harvested unsustainably, waste created by processing is siphoned into rivers, and almost half of it is not recycled after being used (Check out the stats). All this aside, however, international corporations like Hallmark add a whole new level of environmental damage in the way that they make their products: distribution that transports paper around the globe. When I tried to find out where the components of a Hallmark card came from, I was told by a rep that the paper for their cards is sourced from “Asia,” cards are printed in Kansas City and abroad, and products are distributed globally. They would not comment on the source of the trees for their paper, and refused to give me details on the other steps in production.

Think about it this way: the dinosaur card that I didn’t buy for my brother may have started its life as a tree somewhere in Brazil. From there was cut, processed, and shipped to China to be turned it into the glossy white page that I’m used to buying. The cardstock was shipped to Kansas where it was printed, packed and sent (by mail) to the PLNU bookstore. It had already traveled thousands of miles when it got to me. Should I have chosen to, I would have sent it on another long journey: a layover in Miami and an eventual arrival in Tegucigalpa. That world-traveler of a card would be read, placed on a desk for a week, and then dumped unceremoniously into the trash (there is no recycling in Honduras).

So, next time you hold a disposable piece of paper in your hand, think of where it has been and what it has cost us to get it it you. Small steps like e-mailing, using recycled paper and carrying a mug around with you can begin to lessen the tremendous impact that we Americans have on the world.

By. Anna Ver Beek

(Distribution: Economic)

World-Traveling Cards