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Consumers help fight corruption!

Raising Hope for Congo

I've spent the better part of the past four months campaigning with a team of grassroots organizers through 30 states, 60 cities, reaching 10,000 people with one important message: Ending extreme poverty can truly be our generation's greatest achievement. But no matter the cultural, socio-economic or geographic differences in the places we visited, our audiences primarily wanted to know one thing: How can one individual make an impact on such a daunting issue as extreme poverty?

So I wanted to highlight an organization that provides the opportunity for individuals to take immediate action — the Enough Project. Enough's work is particularly important not only because of the tangible impact of their activism, but also because they are addressing an issue in which we as consumers are all deeply implicated—conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a video that caught me completely off-guard: a four-minute narrative in which Enough's co-founder John Prendergast explains the intricate supply chain linking our electronic gadgets to a cycle of extreme violence and poverty in the DRC. For those who aren't familiar, I'll let you watch the video to truly see the magnitude of the issue, but here it is in a nutshell: Congo's vast mineral reserves violent profiteering militias global supply chains = our electronics products coming at the expense of massive human suffering.

The "conflict minerals" narrative has gained a bit of traction in the major media of late, notably in The New York Times and VICE. This is good news, as press coverage is needed to bring public and government attention to the issue. But a key piece is still missing in order for this situation to truly change: we need a consumer movement to demand ethically sourced electronics products.

Our team had the pleasure of sitting down with Enough to discuss how exactly they are building this consumer movement through their Raise Hope for Congo campaign. So watch the interview, then visit Raise Hope for Congo's "Take Action" page, where you'll see a number of different opportunities to join the movement for peace in Congo, such as sending petitions to leading electronics companies to demand conflict-free products sourced from Congo, and pressuring your campus to go conflict-free by joining the Conflict-Free Campus Inititiative (which, since filming our interview with Enough, has grown to 100 campuses across the country).

This is a true example of the power of the individual in the fight against the myriad factors that create extreme poverty. We've already shown with the blood diamonds movement that consumer demand dictates supply, and that companies don't have to choose between "doing the right thing" and making a profit. The Apples, HPs and Dells of the world know this to be true; let's show them that we do too.

By Daniel Skallman on the Global Poverty Project Blog