In a remote area of Tamil Nadu where the rugged landscape is dominated by the colour of the red soil, Flowering Desert is a thriving sustainable small business. Established in 2006, Flowering Desert provides fifty women with a fair, safe and supportive work environment, enabling each woman to grow in confidence, increase their skills and bringing them a status in society.
Oasis Coffins began life in 2006 with a simple idea; it must be possible to develop great products using natural materials abundantly available in rural Bangladesh. The materials are sourced sustainably, creating quality jobs for local people and seeing their lives and the environment impacted for good.
After extensive market research and product development, a range of beautifully designed coffin products in natural materials was developed, which has now been extended to baskets as well. Today Oasis has its own dedicated product development and manufacturing units in rural Bangladesh, where more than 140 people, many of them from economically marginalized backgrounds, have secure employment.
Freeset exists for the many women who have never had the choice to be free. The story began in Sonagachi, one of Asia’s largest red-light areas with approximately ten thousand sex workers, many of whom were taken from their homes in villages and communities across West Bengal.
In 2014, the women at Freeset in Kolkata started dreaming about returning to their ancestral homes. The idea of preventing trafficking by providing an economy where there is no economy was born. Freeset fabrics is such a business, offering an opportunity for fairly-paid employment, in the production of beautiful handwoven fabric.
Janet Rogers, a British designer and consultant, founded Via Design in 2005, motivated by her commitment to ethical trade through excellence in design and production of market-led products. She is passionate about empowering women who have not had the freedom to make their own choices. She makes 2-3 visits to India each year and is currently also developing connections in the UK that will hopefully lead to alternatives for livelihood creation in response to modern slavery.
Since 2011, Via has provided consultancy to Freeset, a social business in West Bengal, India, which provides fairly paid employment for women who have been trafficked or who are at risk of being trafficked. Freeset manufactures custom bags, tee shirts and handloom products for export and domestic markets. Janet was involved with research and setting up a new unit for Freeset, (handloom weaving) as prevention, in a rural area of W Bengal where women are known to be at risk and where women who wish to can return to their home village.