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Refugees from Burma living in the US create traditional & innovative woven goods in a community-driven cultural promotion project, and sell their creations through Homespun, a sustainable clothing and accessory line
Homespun empowers refugees as entrepreneurs, breaks isolation, promotes community, & celebrates culture
Roadmap to Success
FIVE PROJECT QUESTIONS
What is your innovation?
Our innovation is a community-driven project where refugees from Burma preserve, share, and reinvent their traditional craft of weaving and sell their creations through Homespun, a sustainable clothing and accessory line. The uniqueness of our innovation lies in the integration of cultural promotion, storytelling, and entrepreneurship. Each handcrafted product connects the purchaser to the weaver's story. It provides refugees from Burma living in the US an opportunity for economic empowerment.
Who gains the most?
Recently arrived refugees develop a sense of entrepreneurship, break social isolation, and establish new alternative sources of economic revenue. Profits go to weavers’ salaries, materials and program costs. The project creates an inter-generational exchange where elders educate youth in the weaving art, thereby strengthening relationships in the community. Customers gain awareness of the situation of refugees from Burma living in the US and connect to a local expression of a global social issue
The initial stages of the weaving project are taking shape now with seed funding from local non-profits, the AjA Project in collaboration with the Karen Organization of San Diego. Homespun will launch with the sale of the first products created in this start-up phase, and with additional funds sought through other grants or competitions. We also plan to collaborate with the San Diego Microfinance Alliance to seek financing opportunities. Eventually Homespun will become a sustainable business.
What is your success?
In 12 months success means establishing a team of several weavers, creating a supply chain, generating enough profit from the sales to provide dignified pay to the artisans, and developing a model of teaching leadership and social entrepreneurship through weaving. In years 1-3 success means scaling up the project and market reach, innovating new designs, and teaching weavers to use technology to share their stories and promote their products. By year 5 the project will be sustainable.
How will you do it?
We have begun meeting with community members and have identified a key elder leader-weaver and 17 youth who are interested in participating. We will begin by using our seed money to buy materials, build looms, and start regular weaving circles. We will develop or adapt a leadership/social entrepreneurship curriculum. We will do market research on other artisan and fair trade initiatives in the San Diego community, and seek outlets to sell the products. We will create social media content.