by Pat Williams
"Have you thought at all about supporting Lizzie Wirgau's Market Colors? She is currently running a campaign to help start up the purchase of African crafts." Those two simple sentences, courtesy of my wife in an email last May, started a month of joy and excitement as I began to follow the Market Colors journey.
The day I got that email, I started to research Market Colors through their website, blog and the Indiegogo campaign called "For the Craftsmen." I watched every video that was posted. I read every entry from Lizzie, and I could barely contain my excitement. Now, I can sit back and think about the reasons why I was personally so excited for Market Colors, and those reasons should excite you as well (Well, at least 2 of them unless you personally know Lizzie).
First, I've known Lizzie for a long time. She was starting 6th grade when I was starting out as the Middle School Minister at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, MI. For the next 3 years, I got to see this funny, intelligent, highly motivated girl grow into a young adult. When I saw Market Colors, I couldn't believe that a student that I knew, someone that I probably yelled at for knocking over a table of food at camp, or that I got to watch help individuals with disabilities enjoy a summer camp experience, was starting a new nonprofit. It was such an incredible moment to see something so great happening through someone I had a connection with. That alone started my excitement off at a pretty high level.
But then, as I started to explore what Market Colors was doing, my excitement grew even more. I've been around nonprofits for most of my adult life. I've travelled on mission trips, helped out at camps, done construction, and so on. And over the years I've seen a lot of nonprofits simply be content at trying to provide short-term fixes to a current problem. Their hearts are all in great places and the work they are doing is definitely needed, but I've always felt that in many cases when these groups move out or move on, they leave a big hole. Food was provided for people in Haiti as a short term fix, but nothing was done to help teach people how to grow and harvest food on their own as a long term solution. The building was built and the family had a home, but without a job they eventually would give up or have to leave the home anyways. But with Market Colors, it was different. It was a solution to one of the big holes. Great organizations would teach tradecrafts to people in Africa. And then Market Colors would come in and expand their marketplace to help them earn a more sustainable income. When I realized what Market Colors was doing, I was hooked.
And then there was the Indiegogo campaign in 2012. It was essentially a campaign to get seed money so they could sponsor 5 groups of African craftsman and bring their products to market in America. From the simple perks of donating, to the constant updates, it was an amazing idea. Let's put it this way—on May 3rd, my wife and I had already cleared some extra money in our budget to give to the "For the Craftsmen" campaign. It was so neat to go back every couple days (let's be honest though, I probably checked it 2 or 3 times a day) and see the constant increase of others that were supporting this great cause. From the fun comments of support from people I knew and didn't know, to the grand total of giving just continuing to grow so quickly, it was something to behold. I remember when they broke through their projected goal and had to add even more tiers of giving to show where the added money would go. I couldn't have been more proud and happy for Lizzie and Market Colors during that month-long campaign.
I remember during the campaign that Melody and I decided to make it a point to begin praying for Market Colors, and it's still something we do to this day. Whether it's for Lizzie, for the team, for the craftsmen, or for those receiving the great products, we continue to pray for them. In fact, just this past weekend our tiny little church plant in Wisconsin boldly prayed for Market Colors. We're praying for them to reach their goal of 10 groups, and we're praying that people all over would rise up and give, both to their new campaign and on a regular basis. They are doing good in a world that truly needs it. And I hope that you'll get to experience the excitement we got to experience in this new campaign.
To support Market Colors' new campaign, For The Next Craftsmen, please visit this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/for-the-next-craftsmen