My first contact with Just Cards Direct was via an email from Anne Horrobin, company Director and co-founder. Since then I’ve had the privilege of meeting Anne at CRE/CBC. I invited her to tell us a little about the company. She writes:
Two years ago a friend suggested that we start a Kingdom business that would financially support the work of missions in Africa. Five minutes later, my life had changed …‘we could sell cards’ I gleefully suggested! There are moments in life when as crazy as an idea seems, you just know that what has dropped into your heart, has taken hold and your new direction has begun!
Just Cards Direct came into being in February 2007 and has slowly grown since then. The heart of the business is not only to raise money for charities working in Africa, but also to support card-makers at grass-roots level, thus in a small way doing what we can to help those in desperate poverty. A small group of friends have carried the vision with me – people who have a heart for the poor and a vision to make a difference.
As a business, we import and sell handmade greetings cards from Africa (Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya) and printed cards from around the world. We sell ‘just cards’ – meaning that we not only sell cards but that we also help to provide justice, dignity and hope for the disadvantaged. We work in partnership with card-making community projects in the developing world, helping to provide jobs, self-worth and security. In many cases our cards provide the only income to a widow or an orphan. We practice fair-trade principles and aim to bring hope to those who have been down-trodden, neglected and traumatised.
In the last 2 years we have travelled to Rwanda, South Africa twice and Kenya, visiting different card projects from which we buy cards. One of them, ‘Cards from Africa’, employs about 40 young people who are all heads of their families and support younger siblings, having lost both of their parents in the genocide or from HIV. It is fair-trade registered and as well as providing the young people with jobs, they also provide practical help and support, counselling if required, and a sense of family. The other projects that we work with employ widows and orphans and those who otherwise don’t have jobs and make beautiful cards from banana leaves or handmade paper. These projects provide invaluable jobs, which provide security, hope and an income.
We have also started our own community development card project in Mamelodi Township near Pretoria in South Africa. Mamelodi is home to 1.5 million people, 25% of whom are HIV positive and 40% are unemployed. The ladies make cards from beads, hessian and recycled Coke cans. The project has been named ‘Karabo’ by the local people, which means ‘answer’ in their own language, as they see the project as an answer to the cry of their hearts for help and employment. As well as training in card-making, we also provide spiritual and emotional input into their lives, teaching them about things like forgiveness, anger, health and relationships.
As a business we aim to make a profit, but we give that profit away, donating the majority of our profits to charities. We work in partnership with several UK Christian charities, including Micah Challenge, Jubilee Action and Christian Blind Mission, as well as Ellel Ministries and Flame International, which work in Africa to bring healing and reconciliation to broken and traumatised people.
We sell our cards online at www.justcardsdirect.com, through the charities that we support, through churches and through individual traders. The combination of charities and businesses working together, under God’s direction, has great potential.
For me personally, the business is challenging but tremendously exciting. I am amazed at how many people are supporting us in so many ways. It is wonderful to know that together we are building the Kingdom of God in our times!