Krama Heritage

Krama Heritage: Cambodia's Ancestral Scarf Becomes a Fashion Accessory: Fashion for a Cause

Paris, FrancePhnom Penh, Cambodia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Krama Heritage commercializes Cambodia's traditional scarf as a branded fashion accessory to achieve a maximum social impact in Cambodia. The Krama (scarf in Khmer) is not only a cultural and symbolic piece of garment in Cambodia, it is also a much aesthetic one. And that's how Krama Heritage began.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a symbolic scarf worn for centuries in Cambodia could today directly support the education of young Cambodians and the birth of a highly ethical textile industry by being today worn outside Cambodia? What if could tradition support modernity?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Krama Heritage aims at contributing to the reconstruction of Cambodia by addressing three of the country's major problems: -Deficient education system: 65.9% of the 14-18-year-olds haven't reached the secondary school level. -Unfair economic terms in the textile industry: the daily average salary is of $2 (sector: 70% of Cambodia's exports). -Unethical working conditions in the textile industry: 32% of the 5-14-year-olds are employed.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

-Deficient education system: we finance and support Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (PSE), the largest NGO operating in Cambodia in education. PSE sends to school and trains to a job every year 7,000 children in Cambodia. We donate €3 for every Krama Heritage sold to PSE and we communicate on their work. -Unfair economic terms: we contribute to the development of the local economy by supporting a cooperative of 15 lady weavers working in a sewing shop in Phnom Penh in fair trade conditions as we voluntarily set the purchasing price of our Kramas at a high level. -Unethical working conditions: the sewing shop we support applies the highest ethical conditions standard, no child labor, safe environment, decent working hours


Finalist of the 2015 ESSEC Global Social Venture Competition
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

-Our social project is integrated since it is bound to achieve a wider social impact for Cambodia. We intervene both in the field of education and in the field of ethical working conditions, hence taking on a broader mission than a pure social brand. -Our social project is effective for two reasons. First, it is fully integrated to our business model's efficiency (purchasing price and revenue). Second, contrary to most social brands which have chosen to play the "pure social" card, we have chosen the "fashion" card by building a true brand in line with all the brands out there in terms of communication and marketing. Thus, by tapping into the wide fashion market, we link our social project's efficiency to the wide demand for fashion

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

-For the education pillar of our project, to date, we have donated €3,735 to PSE, thus enabling the schooling, hosting, social care and training of 79 Cambodian children at the PSE centers (PSE data: it costs €47 for the full taking charge of a child for a month by the NGO) -For the working conditions pillar of our project, we have made orders worth $13,800 to the fifteen lady-weavers of our sewing-shop in Phnom Penh, thus enabling large economic impacts for the community. I am specifying here that our partnering sewing shop has been linked to our company by the French-and-Cambodia supported Euro Chamber of Commerce. It is known by one of the most ethicals in Cambodia and has been visited by PSE representatives. -With our revenue assumptions, we project in 2017 to have an impact of $180,000 for the sewing community and to finance the schooling of 3,600 PSE children on a monthly basis

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

-Education: maximise the number of PSE children supported in line with our sales results -Production: Link the two parts of our social project by supporting the weavers' children through PSE -Production: Start working with several sewing shops across Cambodia to spread our ethical and fair trade standards. Create a NGO-monitored Krama Heritage compliance label -Production: focus on the material used for the production of the Kramas and explore bio options -Third pillar: create a Foundation and use the "One Krama" link to give the floor to young Cambodian entrepreneurs and artists (cf. BP)

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have built Krama Heritage's business model for it to be financially sustainable. Our retail price point of €35 allows us to situate ourselves in the higher-end market positioning and to secure margins to invest. After testing the demand, all we now need is a capital injection to roll out the full potential of Krama Heritage

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We have two main competitors: -Soieries du Mékong, focusing exclusively the production aspect -Krama Krama, whose project is similar to ours (competitor-follower) In our opinion, despite the low entry barriers, Krama Heritage is better positioned for the following reasons: a more integrated social project with two separate pillars, the support of an internationally recognizec NGO, a stronger marketing, brand image and more appealing collections, a more efficient distribution-oriented business model, the humane touch of our project not focusing on the scarf but on its bearers

Founding Story

Krama Heritage was founded after a journey I made in Cambodia in February 2012 when Laure, part of the Krama Heritage team, told me about Cambodia, about how the country is rebuilding itself after the Khmer rouge period and also told me about the symbolic of the Krama. I had so strong an empathy for the Khmer people that I had the dream of having everybody around the world wear the Krama to foster a sentiment of pride, hope and sharing amid the Khmer people. Further during my trip, I also discovered the Krama, sensed its economic potential and decided that it would be a brand that would support this project I had in mind. I founded Krama Heritage with Laure, Alexandru and Mihai


There are four of us behind Krama Heritage: -Alexandru Marin, co-founder, responsible for wholesale sales and marketing -Mihai Marin, developer, responsible for the website and e-commerce strategy -Laure Pouchelon, adviser and focused on the devising and implementation of the social project -Raphael Bessis (myself), co-founder and basically responsible for everything !
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Brand Representative.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Children, Consumers, Farmer or Farmer Associations, Factory Owners, Retailers - Department Store, Retailers - Specialty Store, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Supplier - contractor, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Essential Services (i.e. Healthcare and Education), Accountability, Conscious Consumerism, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Disaster and Humanitarian Relief, Physical Working Conditions, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Capacity Building, Media, Standards.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Hidden from View: Conditions in Forests, Farms, and Factories are Only Visible to a Select Few, A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Unite More than Voice: Tap into Community Capital and Collective Resources, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?
Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes, by setting the standard for competitors. We have seen many be born, evolve and add a social component to their company.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We have partnered with many retailers, e-commerce websites, bloggers, journalists and social brands