Philanthropy | For Goodness’ Sake

How a waste dump in the Philippines launched a new business

A watch company invests in an ‘up-cycling’ enterprise

How a waste dump in the Philippines launched a new business

November 23 2010
Sibéal Pounder

Rolex is well known for its commitment to neophytes on the first rung of the philanthropic ladder – its Rolex Young Laureate award supports fledgling philanthropic projects with $50,000 and access to Rolex’s network of business specialists, mentors and previous winners.

This year it’s backing Reese Fernandez, founding partner of Rags2Riches, which currently provides employment to more than 300 women living in the Manila Payatas waste dump. The concept is simple: the women up-cycle unwanted materials into small fashion items – totes (pictured), make-up bags, glasses cases – and are paid a fair wage based on industry standards. The company also provides business training; as a result, “Fifty-four of the women formed a co-operative this year, which now owns a share of the company,” says Fernandez.

Next month, Rags2Riches expands its offering with a collection of homewares produced in collaboration with the furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue.