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South China Morning Post Feature - By Kylie Knott

Happiness of its citizens, not GDP, is Bhutan’s admirable way of measuring prosperity. But for many in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom, making a living is their greatest challenge.

Hong Kong accountant Quin Thong set out to change that after a 2014 visit to the country, when she met a village housewife who was also a skilled weaver. Starting out with one weaver and eight scarves, Quin turned to her social-media network to find buyers for the handmade pieces.

The response was overwhelming and inspired Quin to set up ANA by Karma, a social enterprise that supports women artisans by helping them access the global marketplace and become financially independent.

Quin Thong with weavers in Radhi, Bhutan.

“I went to Bhutan for a holiday and, like every traveller, I brought home photos and presents,” says Quin. “What I didn’t know I’d bring home was a whole village of women weavers and children.

“I didn’t go to Bhutan ‘to save the world’. But a small act of kindness for one woman weaver today has blossomed into ANA by Karma, lifting over 70 women out of poverty into a world of business.”

Quin Thong with young Bhutanese monks.

Net proceeds from scarf sales are ploughed back into the community, including organising photography workshops for the children. More than 100 youngsters have benefited since 2015.

“Teaching less-privileged children photography skills is equipping them for a future that is more dependent on images to communicate,” says Quin – think Instagram. “It also helps them build confidence to interact with others.”

Photos taken by children supported by ANA by Karma will be shown at the “Bhutan Happiness” exhibition, at DrawGraphy, on June 25.

On June 25, a one-day exhibition titled “Bhutan Happiness”, at DrawGraphy, in Kennedy Town, timed to coincide with the third anniversary of ANA by Karma, will showcase the work of the young snappers. Weaver Pema Choden, once an illiterate housewife, now chief executive of ANA By Karma’s Bhutan operations, will attend with her children.

Article adapted from - http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/short-reads/article/2098494/hong-kong-accountant-who-transforming-lives

 




From Zero to CEO - the inspiring story of the rise of a homemaker to become Bhutan CEO of Ana by Karma

One year ago Pema Choden is a Bhutanese homemaker, looking after her four children and husband. A housewife when she joined our Jan 2015 Ana by Karma Weavers Workshop in Thimphu, she became our certified Bhutan Scarf weaver soon after. 10 months later in Nov 2015, our founder Quin Thong met her with other weaver sisters.Though Pema spoke not a word, her smile and gentleness made Quin took notice of her.

By Jan 2016, she was promoted to be our Happy Scarf supervisor - working to coordinate and quality control the work of other weavers in Bhutan. And since then - her career is ever on the rise. Pema even had two opportunities to speak to the public about her rise from homemaker to become a business woman.

In November 2016, Pema is promoted to be our CEO in Bhutan for Ana by Karma, taking care of all the weavers and the organisation of the development activities such as kids' financial literacy and photography events. 

Congratulations Pema. We are proud of you.

This is truly a story of women empowerment. 

Ana by Karma spreads happiness from Bhutan to the world, one Happy Scarf at a time




Media Fashion House features Rainbow Scarves of ANA by KARMA

Ana by Karma 品牌故事 (www.anabykarma.com)
Ana的不丹語意思是「姊妹」,Ana by Karma的詮意則是為姊妹編織圍巾。Ana by Karma以社企經營,願景是激發未受過教育的不丹婦女潛能,幫助她們獲得自立。創辦人Quin,是馬來西亞駐港華僑,現職一家外資管理咨詢公司的財務總監。2014年,Quin到訪不丹,原本希望捐贈美金200元給從未受過教育的不丹婦女Karma,但Karma 拒絕接受捐助。因此,Quin及Karma創意地以200元購買縫紉機,並透過社交平台及其他渠道推廣不丹傳統織巾,而且提供機會展示不丹婦女的編織技巧,以此賺取收入維持孩子的教育。Ana by Karma品牌自此成立。現時,受惠的不丹婦女工藝師逾70名。Ana by Karma的成功故事,也受到當地宗教領袖及皇族成員重視。

 

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