On a recent trip to IKEA my wife suggested we look for an area rug for our living room. Being the typical guy, I didn’t have the slightest idea on why we’d ever need one. She listed a few, which I cannot remember, but through searching for rugs online, I stumbled across, ARZU STUDIO HOPE, which, to my dismay, gives her a legitimate and convincing reason for why we should buy a rug for our home.
ARZU, meaning “hope” in Dari, is an innovative triple bottom line (people, planet, profits) “for benefit” corporation that empowers Afghan women weavers and their families by sourcing and selling their rugs; in turn, creating jobs that lead to steady, fair labour wages, and access to education, healthcare, clean water and sustainable community development programs.
Operating as a public/private sector partnership, profits from sales of the high end rugs benefit project participants, rather than shareholders, through the ARZU STUDIO HOPE social benefit strategy, which involves a holistic approach that fully engages women. “Significantly, ARZU focuses on unleashing the power of the “Girl Effect” – first through mandatory school attendance and then increasingly through internships to broaden their skills beyond only rug weaving. Girls are the future mothers of the world. ARZU invests in girls to unleash hidden capacity in rebuilding Afghanistan.”
At the core of their business, ARZU has also developed a Social Contract with weaver families, which introduces a potential of up to 50% incentive bonus for the highest quality workmanship, but additionally, the families must agree to send all children under 15 to school full-time; all women in the household must attend ARZU literacy classes; and pregnant women and newborns must be transported by ARZU to clinics for pre- and post natal care.
ARZU has been recognized internationally for its outstanding social business practices and commitment to their innovative social business enterprise approach, earning the prestigious SKOLL FOUNDATION Award for scalable social entrepreneurship in 2008, only four years after its inception by Connie K. Duckworth.
If you’re looking for an area rug like we are, I suggest visiting ARZU online first. If you’re not yet at a stage where high end rugs are on your radar, like us, there are many other ways you can contribute to ARZU STUDIO HOPE. To make a donation, click here.
For the more fashion conscious supporters, Peace Cords are bracelets hand woven by women in Afghanistan, made from parachute cords and military uniform buttons. Peace Cords can be purchased here.
Thank you ARZU for making our world wonderful!
LET ME KNOW, REPLY BELOW: Would you pay more for artisan household goods that benefited the local producers directly?