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Senoa Interview | How Senoa Combats Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia

Human Trafficking in southeast Asia | Senhoa

 

We are at our last series on profiling conscious companies for the socially conscious consumer! We hope you enjoyed learning some of the amazing socially conscious companies we talked about. These mini-interviews helped us at Bare Soaps re-think ways we can better develop our brand to make a larger social impact in the world. Our last, but not least, socially conscious company we were able to interview was Senhoa, a social good company that sells jewelry to help provide job training and education for survivors who have experienced human trafficking in southeast Asia.

The State of Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia

Human trafficking has been a long-time issue, especially in Southeast Asia. Some of the reasons for this mistreatment involves poverty, corruption, and cultural influence. Many parts of southeast Asia are in extreme poverty. Because the people there are extremely poor, people would do anything to gain an income, even if it was unethical or inhumane. The human trafficking industry is a billion dollar industry. As much as the government has done to combat this issue, criminal masterminds have continued to keep human trafficking going. Senhoa has combatted human trafficking in southeast Asia through its job training and education programs. These programs make it possible for survivors to live and learn sustainably.

How Senhoa Started

Senhoa first started the idea of helping survivors in human trafficking through a pilot program in Seim Reap, Cambodia. The success of this program resulted in it becoming an official nonprofit organization in 2010. A year later, the foundation founded Senhoa, selling handmade jewelry made by survivors. Senhoa, employs and educates these survivors into living sustainably in southeast Asia. Senhoa believes that educating survivors will empower them to live in personal and economic independence. They work to provide safe employment to protect survivors from continual exploitation and human trafficking.

Let’s hear a little more about what they’ve done to help fight human trafficking in southeast Asia through your purchase of Jewelry.

What does "Senhoa" mean?

Senhoa (pronounced "suh-no-a") is a combination of two Vietnamese words--"sen" (lotus) and "hoa" (flower). A lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with breathtaking beauty, untouched by its impure surroundings. It was through this imagery that "Senhoa" was conceptualized to represent the women and children we work with.

It's great that Mr. John Kimmel and Normerica are able to cover all of Senhoa's overhead. Does this enable the women who make the jewelry to receive a better income than normal?

We are blessed to have the support of Mr. John Kimmel and his team at Normerica and their generosity of covering Senhoa's overhead operations so that 100% of all public donations go directly toward the field to help women, children and families in need at our Lotus Kids' Club (preschool and community/family development program) and Lotus House (residential facility/healing center for young women who have been subjected to gender-based violence).  Our jewelry program, however, just transitioned into a social business in January 2014. This means that all proceeds from the sales of Senhoa jewelry are remitted back to sustaining and improving the program and that moving forward from this year we will not rely on donations to fund the program. All program costs, including artisan salaries, come from the sales of the jewelry. However, this does not mean that their salaries are dependent on the amount of sales. Regardless of the amount of sales, we offer our artisans a fair living wage and benefits such as paid holidays and annual leave, medical leave, a health fund, social programs, life skills education (math, English, Khmer, computer and practical life skills classes such as savings, self-improvement, sexual health, etc.) and tuition to private school and university if they wish to pursue these studies. The more sales we bring in, the more we are able to offer additional and improved services to our artisans, continue to raise their salaries and provide bonuses for them.

Where do you see Senhoa in 10 years?

In the next few years, we would love to open a boutique in Siem Reap, Cambodia and have the girls in our program help out with sales and eventually help run the store. We are working on teaching them business skills and want to provide them with access to higher education and skills training, as well as provide them opportunities to hone their leadership abilities. We want to empower our young women with the tools they need to take care of themselves and their families and to become agents of change and help others. We are also looking to be carried at retail stores in the US and abroad and to open our own retail store in California.

Do you have any socially conscious brands that you can recommend? Please let us know in the comment box below!

 

Founded in 2010
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Senhoa is one of the few socially companies jewelry companies that we’ve come across that advocates for change in southeast Asia. The company first began its pilot program in Seim Reap, Cambodia, and quickly became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit in early 2010. A year later, the foundation founded Senhoa LLC to produce and sell jewelry, handmade by survivors and those who are vulnerable to human trafficking. Their growth has been aided through the partnership of several high profile names, including supermodel Coco Rocha, who designed her first jewelry collection with Senhoa, and Julie Ragnolia (fashion stylist for Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, and Tyra Banks) who also designed a collection for Senhoa in late 2012. Proceeds from sales help the foundation provide job training and education to survivors. Additionally, Senhoa has opened a preschool and community center on the outskirts of Siem Reap as a preventative project of human trafficking. The Senhoa Foundation website provides a wealth of great information for the impact that they’ve been able to achieve through jewelry.

 

Photo Credits: Senhoa: Nigel Barker

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