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Textile business empowers Laotian women
12
Oct '10
Ock Pop Tok is a social venture and a textile center, situated in the Luang Prabang city of Laos. It is an undertaking which has empowered the entire community and mostly the women. Ock Pop Tok means “East Meets West” and is a business venture which aims at improving the economic condition of women in the country.

This venture was started in October 2000 by Joanna Smith, a photographer from England, along with her companion Veomanee Douangdala, who trained her in the art of weaving. Smith was profoundly influenced by the art of weaving.

Laos is an underdeveloped nation of the world with a population of 6.9 million and an annual per capita income of $850. Girls are forced to start earning at an early age because of the economic circumstances. Usually they start weaving at the age of seven or eight years as soon as their feet touch the foot pedals of the weaving machine.

Ock Pop Tok, today, works towards the empowerment of women in the country because of the poor economic condition. However, the enterprise did not start with the objective of providing an opportunity to the women to earn their livelihood. The founders had started the business with four Laotian women and soon their textiles began to sell in the market. The undertaking, at present, has 48 employees and is looking for an opportunity to expand.

Weavers engaged in this venture are paid on a weekly basis and they have paid holidays, health schemes, access to financial assistance, training facilities, etc. An average weaver earns an income ranging between $300 and $600 every month. It has enabled the women to become economically independent and emerge as decision-makers of the family.

Around 80 percent of the textiles produced by Ock Pop Tok are sold in Laos. It has plans to target the international market as well. The venture has already earned an international distinction for its effort at the "Empowering Women" exhibition in Santa Fe. It has been organizing training programs for women in villages and other remote areas of the country. It has also been encouraging them to learn new techniques of weaving, initiate their own business and become self-sufficient.

Fibre2fashion News Desk-India

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