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Boston & New York, United StatesKolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Zesa provides fabric & jewelry design training, business & life skills education, accredited certification and job placement for victims of human trafficking. The jewelry our girls make is sold in our boutique in Kolkata and to U.S. retailers and 100% profit is given back to them.

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

What if victims of human trafficking could become strong, financially independent survivors?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are millions of trafficked girls in India's brothels and very few shelters. Further, while these shelters provide lifesaving rescue & shelter, they are unable to provide their girls with traditional schooling due to years of illiteracy and physical and emotional trauma. Consequently, when most girls leave their shelters (as they do at the age of 18), they don't have any means to support themselves and many end up homeless or re-trafficked.

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

Zesa is our two-pronged solution to this issue: Zesa Academy is a vocational education program that provides jewelry & fabric design training, personal finance & healthcare courses, basic English courses, safety & self-defense training, accredited certification and job placement for victims of trafficking. Zesa Retail employs graduates of Zesa Academy and sells the products they make in a boutique in Kolkata and to U.S. retailers. 100% of the profits are used to fund Zesa Academy, wages (4X average wage) and savings accounts for each girl. Every Friday at Zesa Retail is dedicated to tutoring and any employee who wants to pursue higher education is eligible for a full scholarship.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Priya was nine years old when she was sold into the red light districts of Kolkata by her aunt. She endured four years of rape, senseless beatings and psychological torture before she was rescued and brought to our shelter. At our shelter, she received medical care, emotional therapy and a hundred new friends who understood her plight. When she turned 16, she enrolled into Zesa Academy where she learned jewelry design, along with life skills like personal healthcare, saving & budgeting, and self-defense. Priya never had an education and prior to Zesa, her chances of survival outside the shelter were bleak. Today, she works for Zesa Retail and lives in her own home where she proudly displays her technical degree.

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

We have 640 Zesa graduates in three of India's largest cities (Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad). On December 24th, we are enrolling 2000 more Zesa trainees - by the end of 2013, we will have educated or enrolled nearly every girl living in a shelter in Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Zesa Academy started as a small vocational education program at our shelter. The program was so successful that we received funding from an Indian Government program to expand our program to anti-trafficking shelters across India. As for Zesa Retail, we currently sell private label products; however, we are launching an online retail website in January, 2014. We project that the revenue from Zesa Retail will make Zesa self-sustaining by June, 2014.

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

We generate revenue through the products sold via Zesa Retail. In the three months that Zesa Retail has been in existence, we have recouped nearly 18% of our start-up costs. We have several pending private label contracts - pending our ability to produce the volume needed - and our online store launches in January, 2014. We expect that Zesa will be fully self-sustaining by June, 2013.

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

We differ from similar programs (Made by Survivors, Somaly Mam) in two ways. Firstly, similar programs focus primarily on the wage-earning - girls are taught skills in-house and mostly hired in-house. We partnered with a major Design University to train our girls, provide accredited certification (recognized in the job market) and access to job portals. While we also hire some of our graduates, we encourage and fund higher education. Secondly, other similar programs only exist within the program's organization; our end goal is to replicate our model in every trafficking shelter in Asia.


Anuradha kumari's picture

It is actually good idea. Nice article Sindhur.

Good article on design, business and Job Placement,

woow, cool project. thanks

Rajeev Kumar's picture

Nice fabric and jewellery designs. Thanks for the post.!

Jack Smith's picture

This could be a nice place to learn about jewellery designs.

Shankari Kumari's picture

This projects helps in all sector including removing poverty also. Good one.

J Thomson's picture

Good work sindhura. Thanks for the great share.

Michel Lawrence's picture

Hey this is great man. Keep posting similar.

Danial Bell's picture

Sounds good sindhura, Thanks for the share.

Panther Anat's picture

Zeas is doing a great job. Providing a good opportunity for employees.

Alexter Cook's picture

Strengthening the employee opportunity, good one.

Kareena D's picture

Great post, i am interested in this, will please send me details of it.

Flosy D's picture
Flosy D /

Are you going to give any Guarantee on this.!?

Jack Smith's picture

Could you please revel where this organization is placed..?

J Thomson's picture

Nice market strategy.

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