October 12, 2017 2 min read
Sudara is in the business of creating freedom jobs. Our partner centers in India provide wages for women that are, on average, double the fair-trade baseline for their work. The women also have access to job training and placement services that afford them the freedom to choose their own pathways. In addition to the living wage provided by the sewing centers, we donate a premium to the sewing center partners for making Sudara products. This money is then invested in providing education for the children of the women, safe housing for those needing to escape abuse, health and wellness services and, when needed, micro-loans for the women to start their own business.
We are humbled and honored to officially bring on a new NGO partner, Freeset Bags & Apparel.Founded by Kerry and Annie Hilton — New Zealanders who left their home in 1999 to move to one of the largest red light areas in the city of Kolkata, India — Freeset shares the same purpose and values that are at the heart of our mission.
Freeset Founders — Kerry and Annie Hilton
Like Sudara, the Hiltons knew that the women being forced into prostitution around them needed jobs to find real freedom. Freeset opened its doors in 2001 with twenty women and is now a thriving fair-trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. At Freeset, the women are paid approximately double the fair wage for an equal job elsewhere and, as part of their employment package, have health insurance and a pension plan.
Freeset is located in Sonagacchi, the largest, most infamous sex district in Kolkata, India. Within a few square miles more than 10,000 women stand in line selling their bodies to thousands of men who visit daily. Many are trafficked from Bangladesh, Nepal and rural India; for others poverty has forced them to sell their bodies in order to feed their families.
In their own words, “Freeset uses an “upside down” model that turns the normal principles of running a business on their head. Businesses generally choose the best people for a job and pay them the lowest possible wages. At Freeset, women are employed on the basis of their need for freedom, rather than their qualifications – many have had little or no schooling. They are trained and then paid well above the going market rate. The transformation in women’s lives is clearly apparent, simply because they’ve been given a chance.
We are excited to leverage business for good with our new NGO partner, and believe that ongoing partnerships like these will truly create global change.