The Story Behind Nerve
Esther Kwaku is the creative bomb behind The Nerve Network, an agency and social enterprise that’s on a supreme mission to create positive social change. Est and her team supercharge the ideas behind brilliant people living in remote, low-income places.
What’s the supercharge? They help to build local start-ups.
That’s Nerve in a nutshell.
Est has an infectious energy and unwavering spirit, which shows in her work. Over her 15 years spent with nonprofits out in the field, she has a rucksack full of stories that expose the complexity behind poverty in far flung places. But Est also knows that retelling these bleak stories of disease and starvation is a kill-joy when trying to enjoy your Pret baguette on a Monday morning. Feeling bad is exhausting.
It’s also all a bit white-saviour-meets-Ethiopian-famine…
The Nerve is not a charitable handout. There are no “flies in their eyes” images or well-meaning poverty porn being used here. The people Esther works with are not helpless, desperate or cap-in-hand victims. They are brilliant women and men who have the will, desire and ideas to make changes. But they don’t have the resources to do it.
Esther’s focus is as sharp as a pin. She wants to share what she’s seen and knows works. To strengthen education, health and supercharge the local economy, you’ve got to provide what they genuinely need. And to do that, we need to shift our mindset from pity to empathy and respect.
Without the right resources, there are no businesses. Where there are no businesses, there are no jobs. Where there are no jobs, there is no income. And where there is no income, there is poverty.
Charitable hand-outs are a sticky-plaster fix. They have a short shelf life and you end up in a cheerless, unintended cycle.
If you ship a boatload of free t-shirts into a community, the enterprise selling t-shirts further down the road is knackered. That applies whether you’re in the throbbing metropolis of London or a village in Uganda, right? And if you give somebody the means to drink, but you don’t show them how to maintain the machinery that makes the drink, it quickly becomes a part of the problem, not the solution.
Est has seen the fall-out from hand-outs and knows it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The Big Idea Solution
“What do you actually need to get the job done properly?”
This is the simple question asked before the magic begins. The Nerve team draws out the seed of an idea already forming, and helps to plant, water and grow it. With this support, they are helping to build strong local businesses that are creating real, lasting change. Most importantly, the model guarantees that everybody involved is self-sufficient and earning their own money. No ‘charity’ is involved.
It’s simply a better way and it makes good business sense.
How You Can Help
Everyone involved in making the striking prints and fabrics for The Boutique earns their own money.
When you buy a product from The Boutique, you’re not just providing meals, clothes and affording school fees. You’re helping the women in Nerve’s network to grow their business and access international market opportunities.
That’s a ruddy big deal.
What do you need to do? Have a browse, buy what you love and get ready for your new goodies to arrive!