The Community Cloth is a microenterprise initiative empowering refugee women in Houston. We target economic, educational and social goals through the provision of seed grants, training, and peer support, and by expanding market opportunities for refugee women artisans. The Cloth supports women who want to create and sell handmade, indigenous arts and crafts such as woven bags, knitted scarves, household items and more. Through producing and selling their wares, the women have an opportunity to express their culture and heritage, learn new skills that will assist them in transitioning to life in the US, and obtain much-needed supplemental income. All profits from sales go directly to the artisans.
Is the Cloth a 501(c)3?
The Cloth is not a separate 501(c)3 but a program of Our Global Village, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower grassroots leaders around the world to improve their communities by providing knowledge, resources and support.
How many women are involved? Who are they?
Since we launched the program December 2009, we have had 30+ refugee women engaged at any one time. All of the women involved to date are mothers; some are widows or are the only working member of their families. The women are primarily from Burma and Bhutan, and had lived in refugee camps abroad for up to 18 years. Most have resettled to Houston less than 2 years ago. The Cloth has recently expanded to serve women from Iraq and several African countries as well.
How much have the women sold?
The women have sold over $70,000 (and counting) since inception! All profits from sales go directly to the artisan to support her family. This extra income has allowed them to help pay rent and avoid evictions, buy extra groceries, pay utility bills and meet their children’s needs.
How many volunteers are involved?
As a primarily-volunteer-run entity, we have a small group of core volunteers leading/managing the project on a regular basis, but have been fortunate to have also had the support of more than 50 community volunteers who have been engaged for either short-term or long-term assistance (including with sales events, administrative/data entry functions, outreach/social media, mentoring of the artisans, product development, training, transportation and more).
Where do the women sell their products?
Examples of our distribution outlets to date have included farmers markets, community festivals, community conferences, houses of worship, in-home sales events, partnership events with local nonprofits and businesses!
How can I learn more?