Social Startups

Fashion Creates Literacy Through Crowd-Funding

BLISS is an organization that provides adolescent girls with an education as well as a livelihood through high-fashion. We previously wrote about BLISS in this article.

BLISS brings girl laborers to school and provides them an education. Girls who previously worked at carpet looms for 14 hours every day now learn English, Urdu & Math, as well as embroidery in a skills class. The embroidered fabric is finished into trendy fashionable handbags. And the money goes to the girls so they can support their families while getting an education. You can view their collection of fine handcrafted handbags here: http://on.fb.me/ncj3YZ

To test drive their idea, BLISS ran a pilot in Attock, Pakistan. And the response was overwhelming. The first line of handbags was sold out within weeks. The pilot has allowed for 30 girls to attend school on a regular basis. The girls’ hourly income has gone up 60% since working full time, and attendance rates are now 90%. More importantly however, the girls now perceive school as more fun, relevant and practical. They’re also very proud of their creations that are being sold worldwide.

The demand for the program has shot up after the pilot. The communities now want to send their girls to BLISS.
So now BLISS are finding that they need to accommodate 90 girls more in their school. They also need to quadruple production in 2012, as well as meet the demand from international customers in London, Paris, Copenhagen, LA, Boulder and Nairobi.

Its a catch 22 situation where on the one hand, there is a waiting list of girls wanting to register and help in production of handbags, but this requires significant investment in raw material and the fees that go towards paying the girls for lost wages. To address this, the company is now looking for funding via IndieGogo.com.

BLISS Founder, Saba Gul, explains,

We don’t have enough bags to meet the demand; and we don’t have the funds to enroll more girls to scale. Our campaign is aimed at raising funds to help us scale. At the same time, we’re offering creative perks to donors, including handbag giveaways!

With the success of ventures like Krochet Kids, PROOF and JeepNeEd we see a trend. Crowd-funding has definitely come of age, especially for startup social enterprises and their tech savvy founders.

To find out more, and help BLISS come up with $25,000 before 31st December 2011, go to: http://indiegogo.com/bagsforbliss. When you sponsor, you get to choose your handbag from the upcoming collection.

Follow BLISS on Facebook or Twitter.

Filed under: Social Startups

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Amit Deshmukh

A hacker and engineer, Amit believes that technology, if put to good use could one day solve some of the worlds biggest social and economic problems.