Helping to change lives by selling beautiful and innovative pictures, and by giving back to less privileged people around the world – sounds like Photocircle to you? And you’re right, of course. Only, we’re not alone anymore: recently, we came across a fantastic project from Hong Kong, called Lensational. Lensational is a non-profit, social enterprise that wants to empower women in developing countries – both economically and emotionally – by teaching them photography.
When Lensational’s young founder, Bonnie Chiu, traveled to Istanbul, she realized that simply taking photos together with locals often already made their day. Yet, photography is not accessible to most people in the developing world. So she decided to work towards changing this, step by step.
Lensational’s particular interest is in empowering women, who are still economically disadvantaged globally: on average, they only earn one-tenth of the world’s income. Therefore, the organization teaches women practical skills, as well as self-confidence in order to help them make an income. On a bigger scale, Lensational wants to contribute to a change of paradigm – as even today, women are typically in front, rather than behind the camera.
So here’s what they do on the ground: Lensational recycle digital cameras, then resell them to urban poor women in developing countries at a heavily discounted price. Together with the cameras, they gain access to uploading and printing of photographs, as well as after-sale services. The centerpiece – and key to empowerment – however, is photography training for women, together with local NGOs and photographers. Finally, Lensational sell their students’ work through exhibitions, partner agencies and their own online platform – crucial financial support for the women.
If like us, you think this is a great idea, and you’d like to find out more about Lensational, or even support their work – check out their website. Here are some impressions of the fruit of their work.