Rags2Riches, Inc.

Rags2Riches, Inc. : The first Fashion and Design House for Community Artisans

Quezon City, Manila, Paranaque , PhilippinesSan Juan, Philippines
Year Founded:
2007
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Scaling
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Rags2Riches is the Fashion and Design House empowering Community Artisans. We believe that Style and Sustainability can co-exist.

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

What if every artisan could lift himself/herself out of poverty through high-value design?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Livelihood in the Philippines and around the world is the bottleneck of development. It is vital to enable communities to take charge of their own lives and futures and eventually get out of their dependency on welfare. Without viable employment or livelihood enablers such as social enterprises and inclusive businesses, it will be an even steeper uphill climb towards poverty alleviation.

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

Rags2Riches aims to provide sustainable livelihood to community artisans through helping increase the value of their crafts and creations. We aim to be the example, best practice, and create the blueprint for community livelihood in the Philippines and even the world.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Susamarie Estabillo, or “Nhing”, is the Production Supervisor of Rags2Riches. She used to be a scavenger in the one of the country’s biggest garbage dumpsites in Payatas, Philippines. As the mother of a family of five, she tried her best to lift themselves out of poverty. Because of her perseverance and determination, she was able to join Rags2Riches and lead her community. She is currently the Production Supervisor, leading workshop artisans operations and is instrumental in ensuring high quality, productivity, and maintaining a fair working environment for the artisans. Our goal is to empower and enable every Filipino Artisan (like Nhing) to dream bigger, learn more, get access to the market, and lift their families out of poverty.

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

Rags2Riches Inc. was created to provide these artisans with fair access to the market and the formal economy, as well as with additional skills-based, financial and health training so that they can maximise their career potential and take steps towards long-term financial and personal well-being. R2R integrated a design solution by partnering with well-known influential fashion designers like Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Olivia d’Aboville and Oliver Tolentino turning scrap materials into fashion handbags. After six years, R2R has already trained 900 artisans across 21 communities in the Metro Manila area and continues to expand its social impact and eco-ethical footprint in the country.

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

Livelihood in the Philippines and around the world is the bottleneck of development. It is vital to enable communities to take charge of their own lives and futures and eventually get out of their dependency on welfare. Without viable employment or livelihood enablers such as social enterprises and inclusive businesses, it will be an even steeper uphill climb towards poverty alleviation. Rags2Riches aims to create a scalable and sustainable blueprint for livelihood.
Sustainability

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

R2R increases the value of artisanal craft through design. Thus, our social impact is directly linked to the creation and sales of products. We need to be very good at creating innovative designs and selling our products through appropriate distribution channels, in order to effectively fulfil our mission. Market-driven sales is the main way for us to achieve financial sustainability and greater positive impact.

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

Livelihood-based social enterprises and even larger companies who wish to source from communities encounter issues with quality, on-time deliveries, and consistency. As a result, most livelihood initiatives are projects (Christmas, etc.), bazaar-dependent, or backed up by a larger corporation/foundation in order for it to continue operations. Larger companies who source from communities do so in “capsule” or featured collections that don’t require high quantities or regular orders. R2R’s market-driven, community model enables us to provide stable and reliable livelihood to artisans.
Team

Founding Story

We started in Payatas, one of the Philippines’ largest dumpsites and home to half a million people. An informal cottage industry of rug-weavers grew from the many women who used scrap fabric to participate in the handicraft production of rug and rag weaving, while taking care of their children at home. Over time, the industry became exploited by a series of middlemen who controlled both the supply of scrap fabric and the women’s access to the market, which created an unfair value chain for the women who at the end of the day earned only pennies per finished product or less than .20 cents USD per day. Rags2Riches Inc. was created to provide these artisans with fair access to the market and the formal economy.

Team

Our
About You
Organization:
Rags2Riches, Inc.
About You
First Name

Therese

Last Name

Fernandez

About Your Project
Organization Name

Rags2Riches, Inc.

How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, San Juan

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Quezon City, Manila, Paranaque

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Customers.

Supplemental
Sector

Sustainable Sourcing, Opportunities for Women, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

We provide sustainable and stable livelihood to artisans around the Philippines (mostly women, mostly stay-at-home-mothers) through providing them with access to design and designers, skills training, and markets. These artisans are beneficiaries of different Non-profits and foundations that provide them access to basic social services. Rags2Riches is the livelihood arm of these non-profits and foundations, and in effect becomes the platform for their beneficiaries to become empowered community members.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

R2R has built a community production model that enables stay-home artisans (mostly mothers) to create high value, high quality products without leaving their homes. It took 3 years of designing and adjusting to make this model work and also ensure that we keep high standards of quality, design, and professionalism. This unique solution was created in collaboration with the artisans and is now implemented in a few communities, making R2R a viable example of how a business can be inclusive and successful.

We believe that because livelihood is a vital step towards poverty alleviation, our model can't be limited to our communities. Our goal is to be the platform to lift Filipino Artisans out of Poverty. This bold goal needs a bold solution.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

I am part of the founding team of R2R and I have been building the enterprise with my team for about 6 years now. Building R2R has taught me how to constantly balance the aspects of sustainability (profit, positive impact, building a great team, etc.), stick to a vision, and never give up. While a lot of social enterprises were built throughout the years, only a few were able to grow and scale. R2R is one of them.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?

yes

Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

yes

Are you are a current Unilever employee?

randomness