There are many definitions of Social Enterprise or Social Entrepreneur, but the definition that rings true for Toraja Melo is the one defined by the late Pamela Hartigan, the former Managing Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Co-Writer of the book “The Power of Unreasonable People – How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change The World”. Pamela essentially says that Social entrepreneur does not empower community, but Social Entrepreneur is merely facilitator and catalyst for social change to create agency and restore dignity.
Toraja Melo works in two areas, i.e. in the Community and in the Business.
In the community, Toraja Melo creates a sustainable livelihood of the weavers’ community by organizing the community (into weavers’ cooperative in partnership with PEKKA-The Association of Women Headed Households), teaching to make quality hand-woven products and by designing & marketing community based travel.
In Toraja, where we have been working the longest, a weavers’ cooperative has been established, many women have come back from Malaysia and can earn a living as a weaver with average income of Rp3-5 million/month. The pride among Torajanese to wear their traditional hand-woven textile has returned, creating a high local demand. Additionally, we have been doing #SoulfulTravel CBT (Community Based Travel), whereby the weavers and villagers earn additional income by renting out their homes and serve packaged tours, i.e. cooking traditional food, doing local dance and acting as local guides. All of these have created “agency” or power, especially economic power and dignity among the women weavers and the village people.
In the Business, Toraja Melo connects community products to the world market. We adhere to the values of Community – Quality – Compassion. We collaborate with community of weavers. We create quality products and strive to give quality service. We work together with compassion to alleviate poverty.
We design and make products, which follow 3 F’s: Functional, (made of hand-woven) Fiber and Fashionable.
In Marketing, Branding and Promoting our products, we continue to build market awareness to grow Conscious Consumers who appreciate good quality hand-crafted products. #SaveWeavingSaveLife
The overall impact is a growing Conscious Consumers movement, which in turn creates Sustainable Livelihood of the weavers and village people.