When sleeping women wake, mountains will move. ~Chinese Proverb

 

 

Thanks so much for stopping here to read about our artisan and NGO partners around the world!

 

Every product we sell is handmade by a woman facing severe economic and social struggles; from human trafficking and war, to extreme poverty. With income, women can gain safety, feed and educate their children, reduce dependency and have hope for the future. A girl whose mother has an income is much less likely to die of malnutrition, be taken out of school or be trafficked into the sex trade. Although we do carry products from a few groups that also employ men, and a few family run workshops where husband and wife work together side by side, the overwhelming majority are women.

 

In each country where we source products, we have developed a relationship with a locally run NGO (non-profit). This is essential because very few of our artisans speak english or have access to internet and banking. Our NGO partners are able to partner with us to distribute payments and assist artisans in shipping completed orders. Women are being assisted and educated on many aspects of business building, healthy, safe living practices, the value of education and much more.  In addition to this, a percentage of every sale is donated to the Buy The Change Foundation which gives monetary grants to our artisan partners to help them purchase new equipment or other needed items.

 

We follow a trade over aid philosophy in being part of the solution to economic and social issues faced by marginalized women.

 

Our Partners:

Astral Exports - Bawali Village, India

Recycled Sari Blankets, Baby Blankets, Scarves and Napkins  

Astral Exports is a cooperative of 30 women living in a rural area about 1 hour outside of Kolkata, India. The women are home based workers who come together for a weekly meeting where they sew in community, turn in completed projects and collect supplies for new projects. Many walk long distances, often with young children, to attend the weekly meetings. Opportunities for paid work are scarce in rural areas, working at home allows the cooperative members to earn income and continue to meet the demands of home and family.

 

 

Connexions Vocational Training Center – Kolkata, India

Recycled Sari Bags, Scarves, Baby Blankets and Throws

Connexions is a project in the Mullahati slums in Kolkata, India. Women receive training in sewing, quilting and paper crafts. They have the opportunity to learn English, business skills and income. After completing training, many women continue to work in the sewing center, others become home based artisans. Handcrafting kantha blankets and bags at home allows them to earn income in addition to caring for their families.

 

Several of the many beautiful children and a skilled artisan we met while visiting Connexions in Kolkata.

 

Craftworks Cambodia - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Silk scarves, Recycled feed bag products, Recycled cement bag products, knit bags, Recycled bombshell brass jewelry

This organization was established to provide market access for disabled artisans in Phnom Penh and the surrounding villages. Many are living with HIV/AIDS, some are land mine victims, some are disabled from contracting polio as children. We are especially proud of our partnerships with the women we work with through Craftworks Cambodia. They are each using the unique skills they have despite their phyical challenges. These women would have no opportunity for sustainable income without these partnerships. 

Srey Kim and Srey Mac share a small workshop in Phnom Penh. They sew bags out of recyceld feed bags and recycled cement bags. Our popular Elephant Brand bags come from their workshop. They have both suffered severe physical challenges. Srey Mac lost a leg in a land mine accident and Srey Kim contracted polio as a child which left her leg damaged. They have not let these injuries stop them and work tirelessly everyday to support themselves using their skills at sewing.

 

Srey Oun is an amazing woman in Phnom Penh who was severly disfigured and blinded in an acid attack several years ago. She keeps her face covered because of the severe injuries she sustained. Using only her sense of touch, she spends most days crocheting bags and other items. Unbelievably, she is able to support herself, her elderly mother and her young daughter with the income she earns. She is committed to keeping her daughter in school. 

 

Kiran Social Enterprise - Kolkata, India

Jewelry

Kiran seeks to empower women living in the slums of Kolkata, India.The vocational training and employment they offer enables women to become skilled jewelry makers. The women earn fair wages through dignified work. Kiran operates not just as a business and workshop but also as a community of support and hope. The women working with Kiran are the most marginalized with very few options for employment and economic freedom. With access to the American market Kiran can grow and change the lives of more women every year.

 

Maya Traditions – Guatemala

Hand loomed cotton scarves and leather trimmed bags

Maya Traditions works with more than 100 Maya women in five established groups in rural villages. Backstrap weaving is an ancient traditional art which women can do at home while caring for their families. In addition, they work with a group of women crochet artisans and footloom weavers. Maya women are faced with very limited economic opportunity due to very remote locations. The sale of their handmade goods is often the only income in a family 

In addition to weaving wonderful scarves for Buy The Change, this group of women in Qato Q'ib Chirijox were the reciepients of a Buy The Change Foundation grant in 2014 to purchase water filters for all of their homes. They knew that with clean water their children would be sick less often and they could have more time for weaving.  We agreed!

 

Mowi Beads - Montrouis, Haiti

Recycled paper bead jewelry 

Mowi Beads is a small cooperative of women who are using the art of bead making to better their lives. The group has a built in savings element which allows women to save from their earning each week towards rent which is due once a year for the entire year. In the past it has been extremely difficult for the women to save for this large expense. At least one group member was able to buy her home with fund earned by bead making.

Necilia is a member of the Mowi Bead Cooperative and tells us that it has changed everything for her. She previously had no means of earning income and was dependant on support from others. She now has a level of independence she didn't think was possible.

 

Peace Quilts Haiti 

Cloth Bags, Jewelry, Ornaments

Peace Quilts is a non-profit organization working to bring economic development to women in Haiti. They are working with women to establish member owned sewing cooperatives. They currently work with 100 women in established cooperatives in 5 Haitian cities who create award winning quilts, bags and jewelry. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and still struggle to recover from the devistating earthquake in 2010. Your purchase of products from these cooperatives offers opportunity not otherwise available to women in Haiti.

 

Starfish Project – Asia

Jewelry

The Starfish Project is dedicated to helping exploited women. They provide temporary shelter and education for women escaping the escort and sex trades, many of which were victims of human trafficking. The shelter is not a permanent residence, the women are provided with work making jewelry as an alternative means of support, medical checks and vocational classes to prepare them for the future.  

      

Suprised By Hope - Uganda

Paper Bead Jewelry, baskets, Bags, Home Decor

 

Surprised by Hope works with Buy The Change to identify independant women artisans in Uganda and Kenya needing access to new markets for income and business growth. Margaret, pictured here, is a market based artisan. She is a master at creating paper bead jewelry and home decor.

 

Wakami - Guatemala

Woven Bracelets

Wakami works with artisans — 90% of whom are women—in remote areas of Guatemala and connects them with urban markets around the world. They work to provide income-generating opportunities for people in isolated areas of Guatemala. Comunidades de la Tierra reaches out to artisans in rural villages all over the country and presents them with the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and establish their own businesses. Artisans participate in a two-year business training program that teaches them the valuable skills they will need to run their company. They begin earning an income after four months, and when they’ve finished the program they establish a formal enterprise that becomes a production partner with Wakami. This relationship provides a sustainable source of income for the advancement of their families, investment in their communities or reinvestment in their businesses.

 

Women's Education for Advancement and Empowerment (W.E.A.V.E.) - Thailand

Cotton scarves, Embroidered purses and Christmas Ornaments

Motivated by the vision of a world where women and their children are free to excercise their human rights, the Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE) is committed to teaching women to become socially and economically empowered. WEAVE was founded in 1990 with the intent to empower indigenous women living in refugee camps along the Thai Myanmar/Burma border.  All products from weave are made from hand woven fabrics.