Carpets for Communities - Empowering poor mothers to free their chilren through connecting them with market opportunities

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Carpets for Communities - Empowering poor mothers to free their chilren through connecting them with market opportunities

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Instant intervention into child trafficking & labour by empowering mothers to earn a steady income from home & return their children to school, giving us time to work with the families in a participatory fashion towards exiting the cycle of poverty.

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Vulnerability of targeted populations

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Increase community resilience

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed. (333 words or less)

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Instant intervention into child trafficking & labour by empowering mothers to earn a steady income from home & return their children to school, giving us time to work with the families in a participatory fashion towards exiting the cycle of poverty.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

We eliminate the normal time lag between identifying a family or children at risk of trafficking or who are working and eliminating that risk / getting the child out of labour and back to school.

Identifying a family to having a child back in school and the mother receiving their first income can take as little as 24 hours.

We remove the economic incentive (by providing the mothers with simple work they can do from home) with our proven market based, financially self sustaining social business model. Our first product is rugs made of recycled cotton and sold internationally.

Importantly we then work with the families though a 4 step participatory development process that sees them pay off their debts, learn financial management, participate in community building, design their own support programs, receive training, send there kids to non formal education (as well as formal schooling), save to improve their family's situation, plan their futures and progress from carpet making to a self determined form of income generation with the assistance of micro loans, training, market access support and general project staff support.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

We survey children and families and take referrals to find children at high risk who are bound to economically supporting their families. We interview the mother and check their situation against entry criteria (# children out of school, income, debt, financial stability, housing, health and most importantly the children's level of risk).

They sign a contract to have the children in school and not working if they want to earn money making carpets. We then train them (takes about 30 mins) and give them the materials and simple tools to start working. On the same day the children are enrolled back in school (sometimes for the first time) and teachers are trained to use the monitoring system.

Social workers then work with the family using a participatory development process.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

1. Scale up production and distribution to commercial levels through securing funding and national wholesalers in order to fully access the mainstream market
2. Diversify products and exit options for families
3. Replicate in other provinces and countries
4. Publish tool kits and proliferate the model globally (through training, consulting, speaking, partnerships and excellent PR)

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

By approaching organisations when we have a need and asking if they are willing to work together. Most are excited to help.

Cambodian Hope Organisation - Cambodian Partner Organisation help to manage the local staff and finances.
World Youth International - Australian Auspicing Organisation (for fund-raising)
Local Schools - Principals an teachers help to monitor students.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

After the excellent results with the test cases of 13 families and 39 children we now aim to eliminate the need for child begging, labour and trafficking at the border town of Poipet, Cambodia and then to proliferate the model globally.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

The one main barrier is that our current product (recycled cotton rugs) has a large but limited market (in fair trade and independent home decor an gift shops) which limits production, which limits the amount of families we can work with at any one time. The answers to this are 1. Product diversification and reaching commercial scale to be able to serve mainstream markets. 2. Focusing on local markets for exit families to ensure local sustainability.

Gaining capital to expand is also a secondary barrier.

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

In the first phase (set up) and the second (proof of concept) we have served over 100 children and 20 families. In the third phase (expansion) we plan of serving 500 families and approximately 2500 children at any given time with hundreds more families flowing through the program. Diversification and replication can only lead to an exponential increase in the number of people that we can reach.


Our work is almost all direct impact and all numbers quoted above are direct impact.


Indirect impact includes community strengthening outcomes through the participatory process that we run with participants. In the current town of Poipet the improvement in economic opportunities and community cohesion will eventually serve all 60-80,000 people in one way or another (after full implementation in Poipet).

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

Initial baseline studies (sample size of 500) and other studies on child labour and trafficking in the area are measured against entry surveys, regular qualitative interviews, progress surveys and exit surveys conducted with participating families. These allow us to measure various improvements in the situations of participating families. These include:

A. On the Family level:
High levels of empowerment experienced by the women. Improvements in family relations, social standing and networks, future outlook, family health, financial literacy and in money management and material wealth among others.

B. On the replication level:
Number of different locations that the project is replicated on.

C. On the policy level:
Number of Govts, NGOs and Businesses to alter their practices in line with our model.

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation?

Yes, in that once it is thoroughly successful on a large scale we will be able to use the example to show Govts, NGOs, international agencies and businesses how to implement a simple but highly effective instant solution to child labour and trafficking.

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Predominantly children of school age and mothers in extremely poor families ( currently in the border town of Poipet, Cambodia), who are susceptible to the lures of child labour and trafficking as perceived ways to abate their poverty.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Initially for phase 1 we solicited funding through various funding agencies, raised funds and use profits from carpet sales. Currently at the end of phase 2 we are using only the revenue from carpets sales to fund all operations. In order to expand for phase 3 we are currently soliciting more funds.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization


3 Khmer (Cambodian) staff.
1 Full time Australian staff member
2 volunteer managers in Cambodia starting soon.

We operate all Cambodian expenses on a budget of about $10,000 AUD / year.
In Australia we have a small government grant of 11,000 over 12 months to help start it up as a small business

Over 300,000 Thai Baht has been paid directly to the families.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

For our current product our market research and feedback from industry professionals clearly indicates huge potential demand. We have already been told that if we can reach commercial scale then one distributor will buy enough rugs to support 500 families.

Taking this level of demand outside of Australia to the other western markets alone would allow us to work with thousands of families at any one time.

Beyond that we can apply the model to countless products and eventually to all products. With the increase in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ethical consumption the demand for products made in this way for the mainstream market continues to rise.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

We have already achieved this at small scale.

At large scale the main barrier is again selling the products.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

See You Tube video. I wanted to help the kids get back to school and met with their mum's to ask how we could help. They wanted work and after some trial and error, returning to Uni to study international development and lots of trips to Cambodia we have arrived here.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Committed to scale.

Emphasis of Work

Intervention and Prevention.

Instant intervention into child labour and empowerment of their mothers and families to prevent happening again.