High-fashion designs are turning impoverished Filipino mothers into living-wage artisans.
The average daily wage for a nurse working in the Philippines is $7, but for women in Reese Fernandez-Ruiz’s Rags2Riches program, formerly impoverished mothers can make up to $12 a day, according to Fast Company. Rags2Riches solicits well-known Philippine designers and pairs them with local craftswomen. Working with the designers, the women produce their products with recycled materials in exchange for a premium wage. Fernandez-Ruiz, president and founding partner of Rags2Riches, was herself a poor working mother in one of the Philippines' worst dump sites (home to over 12,000 families) when she created the organization.
Aware that many women were selling foot rugs made from recycled fabric scraps (sourced from the local dump), and were often the victims of shady middlemen who provided and controlled the materials, Fernandez-Ruiz saw the opportunity for the women to take control. In an effort to gain momentum, she asked prominent Filipino designer Rajo Laurel to participate — to her surprise, he agreed. With such a prominent name attached to the project, more designers soon signed on.
Working with some of the Philippines' top designers has helped women boost their daily earnings from 20 cents to $12, said Fast Company. In addition, many are able to work from home, letting them care for their children while continuing to earn money. The organization also incorporates a "quality of life program," in which a portion of each worker's income is deposited into a bank account for future savings.
In its fourth year of operation, Rags2Riches has helped improve the lives and working conditions of over 450 women. It has improved the environmental conditions in the community with it's up-cycle, eco-ethical business model and has provided an invaluable opportunity to hundreds of women and their families.
To hear more about this inspiring business model, check out the video below: