Salaam Wanita Business Plan

Source:, 3 April 2007

While trying to develop Salaam Wanita’s business plan, I’ve come across great examples of sustainable social enterprises that promote local handicrafts produced by women at a fair wage.

One being the SPIRAL FOUNDATION, which employs hundreds of women in Nepal and Vietnam at a fair wage to produce household items made from recycled materials (such as discarded potato chip bags and electrical wires). At the cornerstone of their success, seems to be the existence of a community center where all their workers gather to receive training, weave the products, store them and ship them.

I wonder if “cyberspace” can somehow substitute the physical space where business and production is conducted. In the service industry, the answer is yes. But how do you make it work for what Salaam Wanita is doing? One of the biggest challenges Salaam Wanita faces is the lack of physical space and transport.

For one, the women they are helping face circumstances rendering them unable to travel. For those who are disabled or chronically ill, their conditions make it impossible to be exposed to the heat, dirt and logistical stress of traveling around KL. For those who have disabled or chronically ill family members, they are unable to leave their loved ones at home by themselves.

Because Salaam Wanita doesn’t have the choice of constructing a center for their weavers, they must find a way to create a social enterprise where workers have the freedom to work from their own homes, and where those facing immobility don’t have to be excluded from economic self-sufficiency. Salaam Wanita’s aim to remove the need for a physical space is what makes it such a unique organization, and why they’ve set for themselves the challenge of revolutionizing the way ICT’s are used to create more inclusive employment opportunities.