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ACU students' business ventures aid non-profits, third world countries

For immediate release
Nov. 5, 2003

Through three different projects in business classes, Abilene Christian University students are helping raise funds for artisans, non-profit organizations and economically poorer nations.

Eternal Threads
The more than 100 students in Mike Winegeart's sales classes are getting a taste of personal selling and a chance to help women in impoverished villages in India.

As part of a class assignment beginning Thursday, students in Winegeart's Personal Selling class will be selling handbags from Eternal Threads, an organization that markets handbags made by women in rural villages in India. The profits provide income and education for the women.

Eternal Threads was started by two ACU alumni – Linda Egle and Anne Hellums – who visited India and were touched by the women there who were forced to work long days in rice fields for $4 a day to support their families. Another ACU alumnus, Johnson Medidi, supervises the project in India, while Egle and Hellum coordinate the selling and marketing here in the United States. Egle recently moved to Abilene and the handbags are now warehoused locally.

The bags, which are hand-crocheted from colorful fishing twine, come in various sizes and designs and range from $20-$35.  For more information, visit www.eternalthreads.com.

Students in Winegeart's two sections of Personal Selling are required to sell three bags each, and his International Business class students may choose to sell the bags. Last year, students raised more than $3,000 for Eternal Threads.

Venture Out
Freshman business students will be helping artisans around the world by selling handcrafted gifts and home décor items at the Abilene Civic Center during the city's "Christmas in November" craft sale.

This is the first year for ACU students to sell these handcrafted items, marketed by Ten Thousand Villages, but this is the third year of the Venture Out program. Through the Venture Out program, groups of freshman business students develop, market and sell a product, then donate the proceeds to charity.

"For 57 years Ten Thousand Villages has worked with talented artisans around the world providing vital, fair income for their beautiful handcrafted items.  By holding this sale, the students give people in the Abilene area a chance to help artisans around the world feed, clothe and educate themselves and their families," said Dr. Monty Lynn

Some of the items the students will be selling include jewelry, stationery, dolls, musical instruments, holiday ornaments, candle holders, and home decorations.  Students will sell at the annual "Christmas in November" festival sponsored by the American Business Woman's Association at the Abilene Civic Center on Friday through Sunday, Nov. 14-16.  Admission is free.

For more information on Venture Out contact Monty Lynn at 325-674-2593 or lynnm@acu.edu.

Micro-Credit for Poorer Nations
Last spring, 30 business students enrolled in a course called "Poverty and Development."  In the course, students explored a variety of perspectives and methods dealing with economic development in economically poorer nations, including the growing availability of micro-credit loans.  In offering this course, ACU became a contributor to the work of the Microcredit Summit which was launched this week at the United Nations.

Microcredit loans can start with $20 or lower.  The institutions that provide these services try to avoid traditional barriers to lending such as lack of collateral and the illiteracy of clients.  Clients are encouraged to start small savings accounts and loans are often given to those who have formed groups to ensure high repayment success.  Focused heavily on women, this year’s report showed that women made up seventy-nine percent of the 41.6 million clients reached. 

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