Hubert Burda Media

kate spade new york Celebrates Women Empowerment with On Purpose Collection

A partnership to teach women in underserved communities build their own for-profit businesses.

The kate spade new york On Purpose collection is more than just a new collection of bags and jewellery you can add to your wardrobe.

The seasonal collection, which features handmade products that blends seamlessly into the brand’s existing collections, is more than meets the eye. The On Purpose project is in partnership with Abahizi Dushygikirane Ltd. (ADC), a for-profit handbag manufacturing organisation, bringing together individual artisans in the underserved community of Masoro, Rwanda to teach the women how to build their own for-profit businesses, whom in turn, empower each other and their families, and invest in their community as a whole.

kate spade new york On Purpose Collection

After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the survivors in Masoro suffered a 50% unemployment rate, with 45% of the country living on less than $1.90 per day, according to the 2010 World Bank report. Yet, despite all that, Masoro boasts a rich history of artisanship from embroidery to basket-weaving, with the women have been leading much of the rebuilding efforts – a potential for growth economically, socially and culturally.

Hence, Kate Spade & Company has decided to step in and help set up an independent and profitable social enterprise in Masoro, Rwanda, where ADC acts as the supplier instead of a charitable entity, providing over 150 full-time artisans monthly paid salaries for working eight hours a day, five days a week, and 12 months a year, as well as benefits like three weeks paid vacation, sick days, paid maternity leave and health care.

kate spade new york On Purpose Collection

So far, the On Purpose project has enabled these women to support both their families and themselves, in terms of personal growth improvements, ranging from financial contribution, increased participation in household decision-making, and mental and physical health.

A stable income also allows the women to communal growth improvements, such as electricity in every home; before working at ADC, up to 97% of the families in Maroso carry on with their lives without access to electricity. On top of that, a full-time job also enables the women to take out loans to buy land in Maroso, which is expensive and requires an upfront payment.

The sales for the kate spade new york On Purpose collection goes to the local community improvement projects in Maroso, which have already built the town three playgrounds for the 2,000 children residing there, and a community centre that provides the 20,000 residents with an Internet cafe, a computer lab for students, and a complete arts and music centre.