The co-founder of the Rags2Riches social enterprise, which assists women who recycle scrap materials to make rugs for sale in Payatas, was chosen by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise-Young Laureates Programme as one of its five awardees for 2010.
Reese Fernandez was proclaimed winner under the Environment category “in strong recognition of her social involvement that is transforming the lives of many impoverished women in the Philippines.”
The project started in the Payatas dumpsite and is currently helping women convert trash into “eco-ethical, elegant” products and sell these products directly to retailers.
Fernandez and her team of young professionals sought advice from designers, who demonstrated how the rugs could be transformed into fashion handbags, eyeglass cases and wine bottle, holders, all for sale in top-end shops. About 300 women now work for Rags2Riches.
It not only provides decent wages to these women, but also provides them with training in personal finance, health, and nutrition.
The Rolex Awards provides financial support in the amount of US$50,000 over two years to advance each person’s project.
Rolex will also promote the winners through international media coverage.
The Young Laureates will become active members in the Rolex community of innovators, taking advice from former Laureates and Associate Laureates, and, in turn, passing on their knowledge to other young people.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise-Young Laureates Programme was launched in 2009. It aims to foster innovation in the next generation.
It supports visionary young men and women in implementing their inventive ideas that tackle pressing concerns and issues in five areas: science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.
The four other awardees are from America, Nigeria, Ethiopia and India. They were chosen from among the 189 applicants from 60 countries around the world.