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Female scavengers in Manila get an entrepreneurial boost

The Payatas dump in Manila, where Rags2Riches works to protect women from exploitation. (wikimedia/ Kounosu/ cc)

Half a million people subsist by scavenging through Manila’s Payatas dump, among the largest landfills in the Philippines. Peter Shadbolt reports for CNN that Rags2Riches trains female artisans who once foraged through trash to create luxury items from material sourced elsewhere.

The entrepreneurial company, which launched in 2007 with the help of top Philippine designers, is quickly building an international brand, Shadbolt reports. More the 800 women have been taught to make luxury handbags, wallets and wine bottle covers for shops in London, New York and elsewhere. The company operates in 21 communities within Manila.

Middlemen used to exploit the women by limiting their fabric supply and access to markets. Rags2Riches offers waste pickers a fair wage and cuts out the middlemen. Beyond career guidance, the women also receive financial, educational and health training.


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