One of the more unu­su­al man­dates giv­en to our Glob­al Is­sues team was to pro­mote sales of one-of-a-kind, hand-wo­ven bas­kets for Ma­cy's Rwan­da: Path to Peace pro­ject. The bas­kets were the cre­a­tion of a re­mark­able group of wo­m­en who had sur­vived the Rwan­dan geno­cide of 1994 -- former en­e­mies who had em­braced their an­ces­tral art of bas­ket weav­ing to build a path to peace, re­c­on­cili­a­tion and eco­nom­ic health. The ob­jec­tive of the cam­paign was clear: bring the sto­ry of Rwan­dan wo­m­en's lives, strug­gles and dreams di­rect­ly to Amer­i­can con­sumer and com­mu­ni­cate, in a com­pelling way, how their purchas­es could di­rect­ly ben­e­fit wo­m­en and their fam­i­lies.

Us­ing ex­traor­d­i­nary video, pho­to­graph­ic and writ­ten ma­te­rials gathered in Rwan­da, we sought to de­mon­s­trate how bas­ket sales were di­rect­ly im­prov­ing the dai­ly lives of the wo­m­en who cre­at­ed them, ty­ing them di­rect­ly to the pos­i­tive im­pact their busi­ness was hav­ing on the eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty and se­cu­ri­ty of post-geno­cide Rwan­da. The en­su­ing na­tio­n­al me­dia cam­paign re­ceived cov­er­age in more than 100 print and broad­cast sto­ries, in­clud­ing AP, New York Times and Los An­ge­les Times

Be­sides gen­er­at­ing ex­ten­sive vis­i­bil­i­ty for the prod­uct, the me­dia cov­er­age pro­vid­ed Ma­cy's with over $2 mil­lion dol­lars worth of ad­ver­tis­ing ex­po­sure. Ma­cy's sold out of the bas­kets within four months, and the peace bas­kets be­came an on­go­ing sales ini­tia­tive. Most im­por­tant­ly, the pro­gram em­pow­ered thou­sands of Rwan­dan wo­m­en to be­come eco­nom­i­cal­ly self-suf­fi­cient; hun­dreds of weavers with HIV/Aids are now in im­proved health due to bet­ter nu­tri­tion and in­creased abil­i­ty to seek treat­ment; and school en­roll­ment has in­creased dra­mat­i­cal­ly in their vil­lages. The suc­cess of the "Rwan­da: Path to Peace" pro­ject has had an un­par­al­leled ef­fect on the lives of th­ese wo­m­en, pro­vid­ing eco­nom­ic se­cu­ri­ty, re­spect, and a re­al fu­ture for their chil­dren.

Rare­ly in PR do you have the chance to make such a di­rect im­pact on those we seek to in­flu­ence. We at Finn Part­n­ers take se­ri­ous­ly the priv­i­lege we were af­ford­ed in this pro­gram and in all those that have come af­ter it.