Turning Rags into Riches

Rags2Riches, a Philippines-based social enterprise, is an effort to provide more livelihood options for impoverished women. The founder, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, noticed that a lot of women were using scraps of cloth to create cheap foot rugs and other products. Desiring to give the women more viable options for income generation, she contacted a high-end fashion designer who saw the value of making recycled-scrap dresses. The company has expanded now, bringing more designers and partners together, and helping more than 450 women.

So far, Rags2Riches has three product lines: foot rugs, a line of small purses and bags, and a higher-end designer line. Mothers begin their Rag2Riches careers with the foot rugs (making up to $2 per day) and eventually work up to the designer line, which can pay $12 per day. For some perspective, a nurse in the Philippines can expect to make about $7 a day, according to Worldsalaries.org.

Rags2Riches also has a “quality of life program” for the mothers–for every product they make, part of their income goes into a bank account that they can use for social security, education, or health care. “These things are not accessible to the poor. When they’re able to increase their income potential, they also increase their potential to have these benefits as well,” says Fernandez-Ruiz.

Reading about this made me wonder if this same idea could be implemented here in India as well. Given that Indian fashion is increasingly penetrating global markets, and that eco-consciousness is now an important consideration in all markets, this could be an excellent business opportunity for a socially conscious entrepreneur here in India.

Read more: Rags2Riches Empowers Impoverished Women To Turn Recycled Scrap Into Haute Couture

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