French social entrepreneur Fabien Courteille has set up a business for mothers involved in Gawad Kalinga (GK), a Philippine movement to end poverty.
The Frenchman who lives with the GK community at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan province, set up the social enterprise Plush and Play for mothers in the village.
Plush and Play utilizes the sewing skills of the women to make hand-stitched stuffed toys right in the community where they stay, enabling them to care for their families while earning an income from being involved in the business.
The business employs 19 full time mothers, and about 25 part time workers. The mothers are mostly former sewing industry workers who lost their jobs. They are now earning about 100,000 a year.
“Listening to their stories, I realized that they already had skills and we should be on it to restore their livelihood and dignity instead of going for rocket science,” Courteille said said in a Philippine Star interview.
“We reach out to more communities and sometimes we have more than 100 people in the payroll. We hope to grow and create more jobs, definitely – a thousand if we can.”
The Plush and Play product line consist of plush toys made to look like fruits and vegetables and named after celebrities and icons such as Okra Aunor, Buko Martin, Manny Pakwan, Mais Ganda and more.
The 28-year old former GK volunteer was initially scheduled to stay in the country for 3 months but has found reasons to stay in the Philippines for an indefinite time. The French national considers the GK community his second family and is now a godfather to Filipino children in GK.