Group to train 100 fashion artisans to combat poverty

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MANILA, Philippines –About a hundred artisans from impoverished communities in the Philippines will be trained to create eco-ethical fashion and home accessories after AirAsia Foundation approved a US$13,275 grant to Manila-based social enterprise Rags2Riches Incorporated.

In a press conference on Wednesday, lawyer Katrina Legarda, AirAsia Foundation chairperson, said the AirAsia Foundation opted to help Rags2Riches push its success story further through the foundation’s first ever grant for a social enterprise in the Philippines.

L-R Marianne Hontiveros, Katrina Legarda and Reese Fernandez-Ruiz with Rags2Riches artisans

AirAsia Foundation said that 100 artisans will undergo a 12-month skills upgrade, design improvement and knowledge exchange workshops at Rags2Riches Academy.

Legarda said they chose to support Rags2Riches founding partner and CEO Reese Fernandez-Ruiz’s plan of training 100 more artisans because they shared her vision of “helping young entrepreneurs find jobs and raise their little businesses.”

She said that they were on the lookout for proposals from self-sustaining social enterprises seeking to improve the lives of underprivileged communities, especially women.

AirAsia Megastore will be offering several Rags2Riches products on board AirAsia’s flights originating from the Philippines and Malaysia starting July 7: two exclusively designed bags, a wristlet and a foldable beach bag.

Rags2Riches started way back 2007 in Payatas, one of the largest dumpsites in the country.

It has so far trained about 800 artisans across 21 communities in the country in collaboration with notable fashion designers like Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Olivia d’Aboville and Oliver Tolentino.

Fernandez-Ruiz said that the AirAsia Foundation grant would be useful in providing them with a “platform to battle poverty.”

“If you provide livelihood, you provide empowerment,” she said.

Marianne Hontiveros, AirAsia Philippines CEO, said that the partnership between AirAsia Megastore and Rags2Riches was a “unique opportunity to support a home-grown social enterprise while offering our guests desirable items that are not available anywhere else.”

“It is perfect for showcasing the quality of Filipino handmade products,” she said.

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