Founded in 2009 to provide economic opportunity in WE Villages communities and a sustainable source of funding for WE Charity, ME to WE has grown into a global force for good.
ME to WE provides two levels of benefits to support the work of WE Charity. Firstly, ME to WE creates employment and economic empowerment for people in WE Villages communities around the world, including via artisanal and Fairtrade products and global service trips. This is critical to the WE Villages pillar of Economic Opportunity, and enables WE Charity to achieve economically sustainable development in countries around the world. Secondly, ME to WE’s charter requires that it donates a minimum of 50% of its profits annually to WE Charity. For the past five years, ME to WE has donated on average over 90% of profits to WE Charity. The balance of funds are reinvested into the social enterprise to grow its sustainability, including its recent investment to launch Fairtrade chocolate to create economic opportunity in the WE Villages country of Ecuador. Since 2009, ME to WE has donated $20 million in cash and cost offsetting in-kind donations to WE Charity.
With ME to WE’s primary function to support the mission and operating costs incurred by its partner, WE Charity, the two organizations operate separately, as required to follow Canadian Revenue Agency rules, in a structure established by Torys and Miller Thompson. In order to ensure proper governance, financial accountability and overwhelming benefit to WE Charity, ME to WE has been reviewed by relevant government agencies (including the Ontario Public Guardian Trustee) and external experts (auditors, Board of Directors and a former Justice of The Supreme Court of Canada). ME to WE’s socially responsible practices and supply chains have undergone independent reviews by groups such as B Labs, Mission Measurement and the Fairtrade Foundation. Mission Measurement’s 2018 review stated that ME to WE is: “not only operating within established industry guidelines and practices, but based on our market research and analysis of peer social enterprises, it may well be setting the industry standard globally for best practices in the field of social entrepreneurship.”
Total cash and in-kind donations made to WE Charity as of 2017
Social impacts funded and delivered through product purchases
Number of artisans in Kenya and Ecuador empowered with financial literacy
Our vision: To empower people to transform local and global communities by shifting from “me” thinking to “we” acting. We measure the bottom line by the people empowered and the lives transformed. Living ME to WE means working together to create sustainable change, and making a difference with everything you do—from choosing travel that leaves a positive footprint on the planet to making purchases that give back.
Our mission: Inspire and enable people to do good through their everyday choices. ME to WE creates options for consumers like you, who want to make informed decisions about what you experience and buy, knowing your actions will help empower people and transform lives, making the world a better place.
WE Charity is our charity partner and our best friend in changing the world. Using a highly effective model, ME to WE is structured to offset expenses and help provide pro bono services to WE Charity’s efforts at home and abroad. ME to WE donates a minimum 50% of its net profits to support WE Charity, while the balance is reinvested to grow the mission of the social enterprise. Learn more about WE Charity.
It started with one beaded piece and a handful of mamas. We wanted to connect them to women around the world, so we called the bracelet rafiki, meaning friend in Swahili. Now, we work with 1,800 artisans in Kenya and Ecuador, empowering them to earn a sustainable income for their beautiful handiwork and to create brighter futures for their families.
Now, these mamas have begun businesses of their own, leading their communities in showing that women can not only earn an income, but also become leaders and role models for the next generation.
Roxanne Joyal was inspired to create ME to WE Artisans after traveling to Kenya in 2010 and witnessing talented Maasai women selling their beautiful beadwork at a loss. Roxanne reached out to form a partnership with these women, one that would give them access to a wider market for their jewelry and a sustainable income.
Today, we have partnerships with thousands of women in Kenya, and more recently in Ecuador, where they have access to entrepreneurship workshops, small business training and mentorship from expert local artisans. Our design team collaborates with the artisans to create a mix of modern and traditional designs at our atelier. Roxanne’s vision has paved the way for these women in building a brighter future, not just for them and their families but for generations to come. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, Roxanne was honored with the Order of Canada in May 2017.
B Corp (short for Benefit Corporation) certification is to business what Fairtrade is to coffee or Energy Star to appliances. It’s a guarantee, backed by rigorous assessment, that a organization is making a positive impact on its local and global community. ME to WE has been a proud certified B Corp since 2015 and scores among the top 5% of all Canadian organizations that are certified.