Krama Heritage

Krama Heritage: Cambodia's Ancestral Scarf: Fashion for a Cause

Paris, FrançaPhnom Penh, Camboja
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Krama Heritage commercializes Cambodia's traditional scarf as a branded fashion accessory to achieve a maximum social impact in Cambodia. The Krama (scarf in Khmer) is not only a cultural and symbolic piece of garment in Cambodia, it is also a much aesthetic one. And that's how Krama Heritage began.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a symbolic scarf worn for centuries in Cambodia could today directly support the education of young Cambodians and the spreading of a highly ethical textile industry by being worn outside Cambodia? What if could tradition support modernity?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Krama Heritage aims at contributing to the reconstruction of Cambodia by addressing three of the country's major problems: -A deficient education system: 65.9% of the 14-18-year-olds haven't reached the secondary school level. -Unfair economic terms in the textile industry: the daily average salary is of $2 (sector: 70% of Cambodia's exports). -Unethical working conditions in the textile industry: 32% of the 5-14-year-olds are employed.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

-Deficient education system: we finance and support Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (PSE), the largest NGO operating in Cambodia in education. PSE sends to school and trains to a job every year 7,000 children in Cambodia. We donate €3 for every Krama Heritage sold to PSE and we communicate on their work. -Unfair economic terms: we contribute to the development of the local economy by supporting a cooperative of 15 lady weavers working in a sewing shop in Phnom Penh in fair trade conditions as we voluntarily set the purchasing price of our Kramas at a high level ($3 in total). -Unethical working conditions: the sewing shop we support applies the highest ethical conditions standard, no child labor, safe working environment, decent working hours

Awards

Finalist of the 2015 ESSEC Global Social Venture Competition
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

-Our social project is integrated since it is bound to achieve a wider social impact for Cambodia. We intervene both in the field of education and in the field of ethical working conditions, hence taking on a broader mission than a pure social brand. -Our social project is effective for two reasons. First, it is fully integrated to our business model's efficiency (purchasing price and revenue). Second, contrary to most social brands which have chosen to play the "pure social" card, we have chosen the "fashion" card by building a genuine brand in line with all the brands out there in terms of communication and marketing. Thus, by tapping into the wide fashion market, our social project is directly fueled by the strong demand for fashion

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

-For the education pillar of our project, to date, we have donated €3,735 to PSE, thus enabling the schooling, hosting, social care and training of 79 Cambodian children at the PSE centers (PSE data: it costs €47 for the full taking charge of a child for a month by the NGO) -For the working conditions pillar of our project, we have made orders worth $13,800 to the fifteen lady-weavers of our sewing-shop in Phnom Penh, thus enabling large economic impacts for the community. I am specifying here that our partnering sewing shop has been linked to our company by the French-and-Cambodia supported Euro Chamber of Commerce. It is known as one of the most ethicals in Cambodia and has been visited by PSE representatives. -With our revenue assumptions, we project in 2017 to have an impact of $180,000 for the sewing community and to finance the schooling of 3,600 PSE children on a monthly basis

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

-Education: maximise the number of PSE children supported in line with our sales results + link the two parts of our social project by supporting the lady-weavers' children through PSE -Production: Start working with multiple sewing shops across Cambodia to spread our ethical and fair trade standards. Create a NGO-monitored Krama Heritage ethical standard label -Production: focus on the materials used for the production of the Kramas and explore bio options -Third pillar: create a Foundation and use the "One scarf" link to give the floor to young Cambodian entrepreneurs and artists (cf. BP)
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have built Krama Heritage's business model for it to be financially sustainable. Our retail price point of €39 allows us to situate ourselves in the higher-end market positioning and to secure margins to invest. After testing the demand, all we now need is a capital injection to roll out the full potential of Krama Heritage

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have two main competitors: -Soieries du Mékong, focusing exclusively on the production aspect -Krama Krama, whose project is similar to ours (competitor-follower) In our opinion, despite the low entry barriers, Krama Heritage is better positioned: a more integrated social project with two separate pillars, the support of an internationally recognized NGO, a stronger marketing, brand image and more appealing collections that drive the act of buying, a more efficient distribution-oriented business model, the humane touch of our project not focusing on the scarf but on its bearers
Team

Founding Story

Krama Heritage was founded after a journey I made in Cambodia in February 2012 when Laure, part of the Krama Heritage team, told me about Cambodia, about how the country is rebuilding itself after the Khmer rouge period and also about the symbolic of the Krama scarf. I had so strong an empathy for the Khmer people that I had the dream of having everybody around the world wear the Krama to foster a sentiment of pride, hope and sharing amid the Khmer people. Further during my trip, I also discovered the Krama, sensed its economic potential and decided that it would be a brand that would support the project I had in mind. I founded Krama Heritage with Laure, Alexandru and Mihai

Team

There are four of us behind Krama Heritage: -Alexandru Marin, co-founder, responsible for wholesale sales and marketing -Mihai Marin, developer, responsible for the website and e-commerce strategy -Laure Pouchelon, adviser and focused on the devising and implementation of the social project -Raphael Bessis (myself), co-founder and basically responsible for everything !
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

I was contacted by an Ashoka member following my participation to the Ben & Jerry's challenge

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Raphael Bessis, co-Founder of Krama Heritage

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I have led and achieved success in two previous entrepreneurial projects:
-At the age of 10, I created and ran for three years my junior high school's newspaper "Le P'tit HIV". The idea was to write about school's life, the teachers, the news, etc. I assembled a team of 4 people, break down the roles between the editors and the printing, and our issues would sell at 200 copies+, sold at 2 Francs apiece. The P'tit HIV was continued further in the Henri IV Junior High-school
-During my college years at ESSEC, with three friends of mine we started our campus' radio talk show main program, "T'avais Qu'à Ecouter" starting with a recording studio facilitated by our school. We would have guests and discuss around structured chronicles about the life in college, including some gossiping I must admit. We started stuttering around our microphones, and then each of us found their own role, I became the leader of the show by devising every show's program and contents, we had a strong marketing and communication campaign through Facebook and posters. We ran the show for 3 years. At the end, we had 1,000+ listeners per show, out of a 1,500 total reachable audience

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We are working hand-in-hand with the NGO PSE, with the Euro chamber of commerce and with the French-based association Social 3.0 supporting social entrepreneurs. We are working with many bloggers which support our brand and project and, most of all, with the community by and large: more than 400 persons in many countries have participated in our communication campaign effort by posing with their Krama. Posing with one's Krama is the exact hyphen of the two parts of Krama Heritage: commercial/brand and social/project-focused by sending a message of hope to Cambodian people by showing them that their scarf is today worn with pride and elegance around the world.