In today’s capitalist and globalized economy, local businesses have to compete with large corporations who do not always follow the most respectful environmental and ethical practices in order to deliver a product at competitive consumer prices. We all know the impact that this sort of system has on the overall well being of our communities. More often than not, following the most cost effective model does not equal the best quality of life. Globally, our system has long empowered richer countries and impoverished developing nations who become the providers of cheap labor and see their local economies struggle to compete with the introduction of North American and European goods and consumerist values. Locally, our system creates a widening gap between the rich and the poor, making families and individuals struggle more and more under crippling debt to “compete with the Jones” and cover basic necessities

Thankfully, there is a global shift in consciousness, especially among younger generations, to embrace better economic models.  Sustainability has become the new buzz word among many young inspiring entrepreneurs and business people with a social conscious. Social entrepreneurs are creating new types of business ventures who are not only profitable, but also give back to their communities, respect the environment, and work towards a greater good. Sustainability is about a more holistic approach to managing resources - meeting human needs while preserving the environment and quality of life of our communities for generations to come

Many organizations and businesses who believe in sustainability need help however in competing with the prevalent economic system.  Consumers are easily wooed by low prices and convenience for the goods and services they yearn for – and unfortunately, this almost always favors big businesses instead of small locally owned shops. Fair trade and eco products usually cost more to produce and therefore generally have a higher price tag. NGOs, community groups and leaders who focus on social change must compete to get their message and public education campaigns heard by an audience that is constantly bombarded with mass media. Fostering social change takes a lot of work – and creative messaging – which many small businesses and NGOs cannot manage by themselves. 

I always had a strong interest in community and international development. After earning my degree in Journalism and working as a Communications and Public Relations professional with various organizations, I decided to make harnessing the power of communications towards social change my main issue and contribution towards my ideal of sustainability. Not too long ago, I had the chance to participate in a Youth Challenge International (YCI) project in Tanzania. I was partnered with ZANGOC, an umbrella organization of local NGOs dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and drug abuse as well as fostering sound environmental practices - throughout the islands of Zanzibar. My goal was to create communication tools that would strengthen ZANGO’s network and help increase its profile – hopefully attracting more donors and partners so the organization could continue its work. Together with other volunteers, I created a website for the organization and trained its staff, volunteers and youth leaders in simple and easy to use tools that could be employed to increase the effectiveness of community outreach and education campaigns. The work I did as a YCI Communications Innovator was very empowering, and I developed a love for communications capacity building – teaching the tricks and tools of my profession that can help people who do good in the world market themselves – and their products – better.  

Following this experience, I decided to launch Écho Actions Communications.  Écho Action Communication aims to give community minded and socially responsible entrepreneurs, businesses, groups, leaders, institutions, foundations and not-for-profit organizations the communications boost they need to get better known and sell their products and services to a larger audience - creating positive social change. I believe that with the right messaging, we can put the focus back on healthy communities and make sustainable development so desirable it becomes the norm.  My approach is to offer tailored and easy to use communication strategies, solutions and tools that work for small businesses, organizations and individual needs, and to teach people how they can integrate these strategies into their daily operations. While it remains for now a small freelance operation, I hope Écho Actions Communications will grow into a business that employs many talented writers, graphic designers, web developers and new media specialists who can reach out to local ventures in my community and participate in meaningful development projects overseas.