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SARI FOR CHANGEFighting Poverty & Unemployment in South Africa, One Sari at A Time.Charmone WallaceFounded in 2014 by Rayana Edwards, Sari for Change is an initiative that uses recycled pre-owned saris from India and transforms them into fashion garments, while creating jobs and providing new skills to Women who need it in South Africa. Edwards had an epiphany after pondering where her future would take her, which led her to take inspiration from the well-known South Asian cultural emblem, the sari - a timeless component of Indian culture that has been depicted in art and literature. The six to nine-meter material is draped around the torso, creating a dynamic garment with hundreds of variations, each unique to one of the two thousand ethnic groups. “I always used to experiment with saris. I love saris, it’s part of my heritage,” says owner Rayana.
This initiative began as a request for donations of discarded saris for up-cycling into a skills development and entrepreneurial project with the potential to scale, as it helps individuals in South Africa escape poverty. The impact of this initiative has been noted in the consistent income it has generated for women who have been taught to create clothing in a dedicated workshop in North Riding, Johannesburg's northern suburbs, the success of this ingenuity has also led to the establishment of a second workshop in Soweto.
Rayana saw the need that every woman faces daily just to put food on the table. With this thought in mind, she made it her mission to equip women with the skills they need to be self-sufficient, "There is both a development and a business component, these women return to school to obtain new talents, which we then purchase after they graduate." Owner of Sari says.
The curriculum equips women with both technical and entrepreneurial abilities, making them more employable, equipped to supply brands, or ready to start their own business after graduation. Intending to have at least 50 people occupying the incubation hubs by 2021, Rayana commented that applicants must be motivated and aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it. Passion and commitment are the main qualities Sari for Change looks for, and applicants must want the change for themselves, holistically. “I surround myself with women that understand that we are more process-driven than outcome-based" commented Rayana. Along with its many accomplishments, Sari for Change was announced a joint winner of the 4th Annual Goldman Sachs Fortune Global Women Leaders award in 2021, receiving a grant of $25,000 to be used towards amplifying her ‘Pay it Forward Schools program’.
This grant will enable Edwards to start more creative hubs/incubations at schools. Their unique pieces can be viewed through Facebook and Instagram when searching Sari for Change. When you are supporting Sari for Change, you are supporting women all over South Africa.