MEKONG QUILTS, THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE WITH A DOUBLE IMPACT
Mekong Quilts offers a rewarding job, which also generates additional resources for the community.
Mekong Quilts is a social enterprise owned by our 2 Vietnamese NGO partners: Thiên Chí (link) and Anh Dương (link). It has 2 goals: give rewarding employment to poor women, and generate profits to support the social programs. The women artisans are trained to produce the highest quality products made of cotton, bamboo, rattan, papier mâché, water hyacinths… Mekong Quilts is now 20!, but the market has changed since it was launched. Customers buy now smaller items, buy more online. And local customers become more important.
During the pandemic Mekong Quilts has suffered a lot: as there are no more tourists, we had to close all shops (which are expensive because located in prime locations) and sell online. The production of masks has become important.
TESTIMONY OF MRS BÉ
Ms Be and her household hardly survived with as little as € 13 per person per month … Be thought, with a broken heart, of removing the children from school. Fortunately she was able to join one of the quilters groups, and her income increased. She now earns almost € 100 / month, this doubled the family budget! In addition she learned new and difficult skills. In her group the women share their experiences and give sometimes good advice. Mekong Plus also provides training from time to time on health issues, or about how to make a good vegetable garden, how to raise chicken without many of them dying during the rains as is often the case.
Our social enterprise, Mekong Quilts values creating objects from materials available locally in the same villages: water hyacinths, bamboo, paper mache, fabric etc. More than 200 women have a very rewarding and remunerative employment, independent of seasons and weather, and of market prices. They do not move to the city or industrial zones, they stay with the children and earn additional income. Hundreds of families are thus moving out of extreme poverty.
In Romdoul (Cambodia), for 80% of households, at least one adult leaves for several months each year: they seek work in Phnom Penh or other distant provinces.
The women are paid on a piece rate basis and work when they are free; sometimes they earn more than the workers in the factories. In the Cambodian villages the conditions are harder -there is no electricity and at 5 pm there is enough light, they must stop working and thus earn less.