In October 2013, H&M Foundation invited all H&M employees and customers to make a difference. Through a global online voting process everyone had the chance to influence which three global development issues the H&M Foundation should support. The issues receiving the most votes were: education, clean water, and strengthening women.
As the H&M Foundation has recently initiated its work for these three prioritized issues, the foundation has also appointed Sudanese model Alek Wek as its ambassador. Alek was introduced to H&M Foundation’s work when asked to give her opinion on which global challenges she found most immediate.
“H&M is a great fashion brand that I always look forward to working with. My friends and family also love the brand with its new Conscious line. I am so happy to work alongside a company that also choose to give back in such an impactful way. The H&M Foundation works with communities around the world to promote growth and development in a positive way. Clean water, education and strengthening women are 3 areas that the foundation focuses on. All three of these issues have directly affected my home country of the South Sudan, so it is with a sense of pride that I am happy to lend my voice to H&M Foundation.”
Alek was born in Southern Sudan and raised in the Dinka tribe. At fourteen, she was forced to flee to London to escape civil war. Soon thereafter, Alek was discovered at a London street fair. She quickly rose to the top of the modeling industry and was named “Model of the Decade” by i-D magazine
“It is with a sense of pride that I lend my voice to H&M Foundation.”Alek Wek, H&M Foundation Ambassador
Alek’s influence extends far beyond the fashion world; she spoke at the International Black Caucus Foreign Affairs as a member of a panel that included Hilary Clinton among others. Alek has also served on the advisory board for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and she frequently speaks in New York area schools to raise awareness around famine in Southern Sudan and to educate children on the importance of nourishment. She is Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and has also launched the Bracelet of Life campaign in conjunction with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Alek also works closely with AIDS awareness organizations, children’s charities, and non-profits dedicated to breast cancer research.
H&M consider it to be its responsibility to make a positive impact in the communities where it operates and that is why the H&M Foundation will drive change beyond H&M’s own value chain and thereby adding to H&M’s sustainability work
“We are very happy to have Alek as a part of our team and with her knowledge and background we are convinced that we will be able to achieve a lot of great things together,“ says Helena Thybell, Global Manager for the H&M Foundation.
The collaboration between Alek Wek and the H&M Foundation is initiated now and will run for three years to begin with.