On Wednesday, April 19th, 2023, we held our annual Wildman Fund Update webinar. During our All-Hands session, we had the opportunity to sit down with our chosen charities, reaffirm our commitment to them, learn more about the impact of our initiative, and find out what they've been up to over the past 12 months. We discussed their challenges and the ways in which they have adapted to overcome them. This event also allowed our team, partners, and community to ask any questions and learn how they can get involved and make a difference.
This year's event was particularly special, as it was facilitated by Sally Bundock, BBC News Presenter and Wildman Fund Patron. Sally had also recently returned from Gwanda, Zimbabwe, where she witnessed first-hand the amazing work of one of our chosen charities. But more on that later.
Firstly though, if you’re new around here, The Wildman Fund is Etch’s charitable initiative named in memory of Paul Wildman, the brother of Etch co-founder Shelly Frame. Paul's untimely passing serves as a reminder to us all that life is short, but we can all make a big difference in a short amount of time - for both others and ourselves. Each year, we choose three charities to support. In addition to giving 10% of our net profits to charities, Etch also provides its expertise to effect change. Etch's criteria for charity selection aligns with goals one, four, and five of the UN Sustainability Goals: ending poverty, improving education, and achieving gender equality. You can read more about the initiative here.
After an introduction from Shelly Frame, Managing Director at Etch and BBC News Presenter Sally Bundock, the first charity to present was Jeevan Asha. Carol Sylas and Rosita Wagle shared the charity's humble beginnings, starting with just one project 23 years ago as a day care centre with the aim of preparing local children for school. As demand increased, the charity now facilitates around 11 projects, including learning centres and even eye-care centres. Carol, the head of educational projects, shared a heart-warming story about a child they educated in the day care centre, who went on to complete their BA, MA, and MSW, and is now a teacher at the same centre she once attended. This was a real full-circle moment for everyone involved. Between Carol in education and Rosita, who manages the healthcare projects, they have impacted 716 people in the last 12 months alone, which is a remarkable achievement, the charity has also started two new projects, namely assisted learning, and a nutritional programme. Carol discussed how the pandemic had affected the organisation's fundraising efforts, but they were able to pivot and engage with donors in new and creative ways. The charity also highlighted the increased need for their services due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
Simon Johnson, Etch’s Growth Partner and Delivery Lead added that in addition to Etch’s monetary donations, his team assisted Jeevan Asha with their website structure and user journeys. They also improved the organisation's SEO by creating content and landing pages, utilising any Google Ad grants for paid media spending.
The second charity to present was NC Kibera, a development organisation that has been running for around ten years. The organisation mainly works in the Kibera Slum just outside of Nairobi, which is home to 1.2 million people living in challenging conditions. Their representatives, Dave Boniface, and Neil Moore, spoke about some of the projects that the charity run, all of which aim to help people to help themselves. Dave, Neil, and a small team managed to visit the area for the first time in almost 3 years due to the pandemic, which also posed serious challenges for the charity in providing services to those in need. The Slum was practically locked down which made things very difficult for the people living there and increased things like prostitution, drug use and suicide rates. They adapted by offering virtual support remotely.
Neil spoke fondly about the resilience of the people living in the Slums. He also mentioned an incident that occurred just a few weeks earlier in which their partners' businesses were set on fire. These businesses are the lifeblood of the people, so the charity was able to offer monetary donations to help with reconstruction. Reconstruction efforts began within just a few days. Dave and Neil expressed their appreciation for Etch's monetary donations. Additionally, Ben Thornton, Etch’s Growth Marketing Lead discussed how his team had helped to develop the NC Kibera website and manage their paid media search. These projects proved to be crucial for the charity.
The final charity to present was The Beatrice Project. Their representative Sue Hutchinson discussed the highs and lows of their project that aims to restore dignity and opportunity to young women in Zimbabwe. The charity itself is relatively new starting in 2015, however, Sue told of how in her late twenties she went out to teach in a children’s home in Zimbabwe and met a little girl named Joy who now 40 years later is no longer little and together they partner in this project again, another amazing full-circle moment. Due to the pandemic, Sue and her team had not visited Zimbabwe in almost four years. It was great to see that Joy and her team managed to keep the project running. However, the pandemic caused a huge increase in rates of sexual abuse, child marriages, and early pregnancies, making it even harder for the team to keep the girls safe. Seeing the commitment of the people out there, who don’t have much themselves, but continue to support the project was inspiring.
What made this session even more special was that Sally Bundock, BBC News Presenter and Wildman Fund Patron, and her son Samuel Bundock had recently returned from Gwanda, Zimbabwe, where they witnessed first-hand the amazing work of The Beatrice Project. They spoke about the incredible sense of gratitude among those that were there, and how it's not just about giving, but providing, enabling, and empowering the beneficiaries.
Sue thanked Etch for their involvement, not only financially, but also for their help with marketing efforts to raise awareness and vital funds for the charity. Fiona Buchner, Etch's Strategic Account Director, explained how Etch's approach was to ‘tell their story’ to demonstrate exactly how people's lives are being impacted by the charity. She also noted how great it was that Samuel while visiting the charity was documenting the visit and is now editing new video content for the charity to drive even more fundraising efforts.
Shelly Frame, Managing Director at Etch thanked all representatives for their time during the session and reiterated the fact that 100% of all donations go directly to the three charities and in the last 12 months Etch has donated around £21,000 in both monetary donations and expertise taking the total amount raised since The Wildman Fund began to approximately £100,000. An amazing achievement for a small business.
Throughout the webinar, we were able to hear first-hand the challenges faced by these charities and the incredible work they continue to do despite these obstacles. It was inspiring to see how each organisation has adapted to the changing circumstances and continued to provide vital support to their communities. As a company, we were reminded of the importance of supporting these charities and the impact our donations can make. We were also able to learn more about the specific challenges faced by each organisation and the ways in which we can continue to support them in the future.
The all-hands webinar was a powerful reminder of the resilience and dedication of these charities and the importance of our continued support. We look forward to continuing to work with these organisations and supporting their important missions.