Reese Fernandez: Filipino Social Enterprise Rags2Riches Provides Decent Work for Women

Rags2Riches is a Filipino brand that turns scraps of cloth into high-end fashion accessories . . . and in the process provides jobs, dignity, decent wages and financial training to women from some of the poorest communities in the country.

Michael Switow sat down to chat with Rags2Riches' founder Reese Fernandez in Singapore on the sidelines of the 2011 Qi Global conference.  Click to listen to the podcast online or right-click and 'save as' to download. (duration: 15'41")!

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Reese Fernandez: Creating a global Filipino brand

Singapore, 24 January 2012. “(Before we started Rags2Riches, these women) only earned 2 US cents per day,” says R2R founder Reese Fernandez, “and for us that was completely disturbing.” Rags2Riches' full-time artisans now average about 12 US dollars a day. Not only do they earn a living wage, they also have a stake in the cooperative's success and gain access to additional services like micro-savings and educational programmes.

This social enterprises' products, meanwhile, are designed by some of The Philippines' best designers like Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Rajo Laurel and Oliver Tolentino.

“It didn't hurt that we made beautiful products in that I like pretty fashionable products as well,” adds Fernandez. Rags2Riches' fashion and home accessories are currently sold in top Filipino hotels and should soon be available for online purchase as well as in overseas markets like Europe, Singapore and the United States.

Rags2Riches' members create high fashion accessories in low-income Filipino communities

Fernandez sees Rags2Riches not just as a social enterprise but also as a Filipino Global Brand, which will help showcase her country on the global scene in a very positive light.

Michael Switow sat down to chat with Reese in Singapore on the sidelines of Qi Global.  The music is a song by Noel Cabangon entitled “Kayod Kabayo Kayod Barya,” which tells the story of someone who is hungry and looking for work. Photo credits: Rolex Awards/Marc Latzel.

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