Carpets for Communities

Carpets for Communities

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Carpets for Communities offers immediate intervention to give at risk children an education by empowering their mothers to produce eco fair trade products which sell globally.

About You
Carpets for Communities
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



, SI

Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Carpets for Communities

Organization Phone

+61 (0)424 511 155

Organization Address

House #251, Steng Thmey Village, Svay Dangkum Commune, Siem Reap District Siem Reap Province, Cambodia

Organization Country

, SI

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, SI

What makes your idea unique?

We eliminate the normal time lag between identifying a family or children at risk of trafficking or who are working and eliminating that risk / getting the child out of labour and back to school.

Identifying a family to having a child back in school and the mother receiving their first income can take as little as 24 hours.
We remove the economic incentive (by providing the mothers with simple work they can do from home) with our proven market based, financially self sustaining social business model. Our first product is rugs made of recycled cotton and sold internationally.

Importantly we then work with the families though a 4 step participatory development process that sees them pay off their debts, learn financial management, participate in community building, design their own support programs, receive training, send there kids to non formal education (as well as formal schooling), save to improve their family's situation, plan their futures and progress from carpet making to a self determined form of income generation with the assistance of micro loans, training, market access support and general project staff support.

We provide women with the technology to make carpets. All necessary equipment and training is provided thus involving women in technology introduction and training. To make sure there is an economic benefit for these women, our organization focuses much time and energy on finding market outlets to sell the rugs. This addresses the creation and maintenance of market linkages for women’s economic outputs.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

After the excellent results with the test cases of 13 families and 39 children we now aim to eliminate the need for child begging, labour and trafficking at the border town of Poipet, Cambodia and then to proliferate the model globally.

In the first phase (set up) and the second (proof of concept) we have served over 100 children and 20 families. In the third phase (expansion) we plan of serving 500 families and approximately 2500 children at any given time with hundreds more families flowing through the program. Diversification and replication can only lead to an exponential increase in the number of people that we can reach.

Indirect impact includes community strengthening outcomes through the participatory process that we run with participants. In the current town of Poipet the improvement in economic opportunities and community cohesion will eventually serve all 60-80,000 people in one way or another (after full implementation in Poipet).
Initial baseline studies (sample size of 500) and other studies on child labour and trafficking in the area are measured against entry surveys, regular qualitative interviews, progress surveys and exit surveys conducted with participating families. These allow us to measure various improvements in the situations of participating families. These include:
A. On the Family level:
High levels of empowerment experienced by the women. Improvements in family relations, social standing and networks, future outlook, family health, financial literacy and in money management and material wealth among others.
B. On the replication level:
Number of different locations that the project is replicated on.
C. On the policy level:
Number of Govts, NGOs and Businesses to alter their practices in line with our model.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Carpets for Communities aims to empower families to break the poverty cycle
-36% of the population of Cambodia lives below the national poverty line?
- 35% of Cambodian children age 6-14 do not attend school?
- 49% of Cambodian children who start school drop out before finishing grade 6?
The statistics are even more staggering in Poi Pet Commune, an area in northwestern Cambodia, along the Thai border. Over 60% of Poi Pet's inhabitants are economic migrants who have settled here in hope of making a living from cross-border trade or through work in Thailand.
The reality, though, is that economic opportunities for people with low levels of education, no skills, and no capital are limited. As a result, many adults are day laborers and struggle to provide for themselves and their families day-to-day
It’s not uncommon for children to forego school to help support their families, either through work at home or on the border. Hundreds of children are at the border each day, pulling carts loaded with goods or people, smuggling clothes past customs officials, scaling fish in the Thai market, holding umbrellas, or begging from tourists. Engaging in such work makes these children vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual exploitation
Equally important, they are deprived of the education that would otherwise enable them to improve their long-term livelihoods. Their families are trapped in the cycle of poverty.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

We have a 5 year vision: By 2012 we will return 2500 children at risk of exploitation to school by empowering 500 families in Cambodia and the world.

This vision is being implemented according to a long term, 4 phase implementation plan illustrated above and so far, despite set backs and having to change the product and target market, we have progressed through Phase II – (Proof of concept) and are now in Phase III – (Expansion).

25 women currently participate in CfC, hand-hooking carpets to support the education of their combined 90 school-aged children. The project spans two main areas and four villages in Poi Pet Commune – An Dong Thmar Meas, Preachea Thorm, Kbal Spean and Day Themy (NPA). The expansion plans for the CfC project rests entirely on the ability to sell all the carpets that are produced.
As of December 2009 we have expanded to market stalls in most Austrlaian states and recently signed a large order with reailer Discount City Carpets.
The one main barrier to success is that our current product (recycled cotton rugs) has a large but limited market (in fair trade and independent home decor an gift shops) which limits production, which limits the amount of families we can work with at any one time. The answers to this are 1. Product diversification and reaching commercial scale to be able to serve mainstream markets. 2. Focusing on local markets for exit families to ensure local sustainability.
Gaining capital to expand is also a secondary barrier.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

Phase 3 – Expansion (3.5 years)
- Get Funding for Expansion
- Secure sales contracts for large quantities of products
- Bring in more families (year 1 – 100)
- Refine production model to produce at commercial levels
- Use profits for increasing development outcomes of participants
- Increase producers participation in the running and decision making of the project

Per year breakdown

Year 1 – Expand to 75 Families
Year 2 – Expand to 250 Families
Year 3 – Expand to 400+ Families

We have based our expansion plans on the interest of Australia’s largest rug importer and distributor – John Perry Distributors – and the volumes they expressed interest in if we can deliver

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

Once it is thoroughly successful on a large scale we will be able to use the example to show Govts, NGOs, international agencies and businesses how to implement a simple but highly effective instant solution to child labour and trafficking.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Partnerships will help provide the resources (both financially and otherwise) necessary to support expansion. Without partnerships, we will not be able to expand.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Approximately 250 words left (2000 characters).

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

If it wasn't for AIESEC this project would never have happened!

Remember those images from the AIESEC history and world issues ppts?

I started Uni almost completely ignorant of the issues around the world but from day one of joining AIESEC and though my 6 active years in AIESEC, from LC member in Australia to MC member in Thailand, I was always moved by those images, even later when I was writing and running the sessions (the big pictures ones were always my favorite).

I joined AIESEC in Australia, 1999, and remember one I must of seen a hundred times of a little girl maybe 4 years old working an outdoor brick production factory. Child Labour...

Now in 2008, 3 years after finishing AIESEC I've headed for a future that involves ending that reality for as many children as possible.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Andrea Messmer - original Project Manager, now Manager of Schools for Cambodian Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Jay Laymay - Journalist in Bangkok and high school friend

Leigh Mitchell - now with World Vision in East Timor

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Social norms, Economic or institutional constraints.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

Carpets for Communities provides women with resources to make and sell carpets, thus freeing them from the time poverty of low paid labor. It addresses social norms by putting women in control of their own financial independence and also aims to address the economic constraint of the poverty cycle.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology introduction, Technology training, Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

We provide women with the technology to make carpets. All necessary equipment and training is provided thus involving women in technology introduction and training. To make sure there is an economic benefit for these women, our organization focuses much time and energy on finding market outlets to sell the rugs. This addresses the creation and maintenance of market linkages for women’s economic outputs.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?

Rural, Peri-urban, Urban, Low income.

In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?