Therese Fernandez-Ruiz

Organization: 
Rags2Riches
Year founded: 
2008
Country: 
Philippines
Website: 

R2R partners with top-notch designers to provide design innovation and training to impoverished women, who hand make high quality home and fashion accessories from upcycled material. Through R2R, artisans have a roadmap out of poverty through sustainable employment, skills building, and access to financial services.

Focus: Environment, Employment
Geographic Area of Impact: Philippines
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 2,800 Artisans and their families (2012)
Annual Budget: US$ 320,000 (2012)
Percent Earned Revenue: 90%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013

Background
Over 80% of Filipinos live close to or below the poverty line. A poignant picture of modern poverty can be seen in Payatas, one of the largest landfills in the Philippines. Rural migrants, who come to Manila seeking a better life, get their food, materials for livelihood, and personal effects from the garbage dumpsite. The population in Payatas has reached almost half a million, despite the health consequences for people living at the landfill. At Payatas, enterprising women scrounged for scraps of cloth for weaving rugs, but middlemen have increasingly inserted themselves into the value chain. Dividing the profit among multiple middlemen, the women of Payatas earn less than 20 cents per day. It was from this picture of inequality that the idea of R2R was born.

Innovation and Activities
Recognizing the women’s work ethic, but also the challenges they faced in earning a living wage, R2R was founded to help women capture a greater value for their services by linking them more closely to the retail market. R2R has expanded its activities beyond Payatas to provide a fully integrated and sustainable livelihood platform to impoverished women, who do not have bank accounts (much less personal identification papers), and who seek to gain access to financial and social services. The platform consists of three basic building blocks to achieve scale and sustainability: