Business developing world fashion

Published on October 17th, 2011 | by Talancia Pea

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Recycling Fashion May Help Alleviate Poverty for the World’s Poorest Women

fashion from the developing world

Nicholas Kristof, journalist and New York Times columnist, shared the triumphant story of Jane Ngoiri, a 38-year-old Kenyan mother of three, who overcame homelessness and poverty by recycling discarded wedding gowns and dresses. She bought a dress for about $7 and used the fabric to make several children’s dresses. Jane’s business grew quickly, and she received a small business loan from Jamii Bora Trust, the largest microfinance organization in Kenya. She was able to purchase a home for her family and paid for her children’s education.

Jane’s story is one example of how Nicholas and wife Sheryl Wudunn’s Half the Sky movement is giving women in the poorest parts of the world (i.e. slums, ghettos, etc.) the resources to become successful business owners. We can support women in similar situations to Jane’s by donating to charities fighting to end poverty and extremism against women.

Furthermore, we can learn from Jane’s example of transforming used clothing into something new and lessen the ever-increasing amount of clothing in landfills. You can experiment with more practical repurposing ideas like using old jeans to make handbags or try the more eccentric idea of fashion designer Antoine Peters, and make a new dress from your tighty whities. The ideas for repurposing clothing are endless!

If you feel compelled to give Jane and/or other women your unused bridal and bridesmaids’ dresses or casual and prom gowns, you can visit this page to learn where to send your donations!

Image Credit: AISPIX/ Shutterstock 



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Sustainable Fashion Blogger since 2008 with work featured in magazines and newspapers, among other publications. Find her on .



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