Friday, June 25, 2010

Enterprising scarf weavers in Thailand

A new social enterprise gives traditional silk scarf weavers in Thailand a global market to sell their craft on the internet. The Kothad Silk Project was the idea of Farquhar Simpkin who is putting 50 percent of the profits back into the scarf weavers community.

From Triple Pundit, writer Leon Kaye tells us how the money is benefiting the community.

The process for making silk apparel is labor intensive. Producing half a kilo of silk takes 35 to 40 hours, and then the weavers, who are traditionally women, use hand looms to create intricate patters in colors and styles that are reflective of the region in which they live. Silk weaving has had a long tradition in Si Sa Ket, but weavers have lacked any effective means for distribution. Simpkin is changing that, and in turn is investing in the community. Workers receive a fair trade pay for their work, and income they generate from the Project helps pay school fees for their children, build a family business, stay in a region where their families have lived for generations, and keep these traditions and skills alive.

The Kohtrad Silk Project will also benefit the entire community because 50% of all profits from the scarves and shirts sold will go towards building an Internet hub, giving locals cheap access to the internet. The hub will be located next to a village school, and the plans are already drawn: the Project’s goal is to have the hub filled with desks, computers, and printers within one year.

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