264: The Empowerment Bag: A Bag to End Human Trafficking, with Vaishali Umrikar
The Empowerment Bag is an eco-friendly brand of bags, that employs women at risk of sex trafficking.
Vaishali Umrikar is a passionate social entrepreneur who is committed to fighting human trafficking. While she was in high school, she read the book, The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek. This book awakened her to the realities of modern-day human trafficking. She became involved in anti-trafficking advocacy groups throughout high school and college.
Since then, Vaishali has worked with the Australian Government Office for Women, Chicago Probation Sex Offender Unit, and Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
After graduating from college and beginning her corporate career, Vaishali realized her passion was to end human trafficking. So, she decided to launch her own business. She thought of several product ideas. But it was when she couldn’t find an ethical and affordable line of bags, she decided to create one herself. The project became The Empowerment Bag.
The Empowerment Bag is a brand of practical & eco-friendly bags that empower survivors of sex trafficking. The bags are made by women at risk of exploitation in West Bengal, India. These women are given an alternative to the sex trade through literacy training, sewing skills, and employment with fair wages. Five percent of sales go to New Light, a nonprofit that provides shelter, education, and healthcare to trafficked women and their children.
The Crowdfunding Campaign
The Empowerment Bag is crowdfunding on Indiegogo until September 27, 2018. Crowdfunding allows people to purchase the bags at up to 35% off retail price. After the crowdfunding period ends, the bags will be available at regular price on The Empowerment Bag website or through authorized retailers.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Vaishali Umrikar:
“Our bags are made by women at risk of sexual exploitation in West Bengal, India.”
“A big part of The Empowerment Bag is breaking the cycle of exploitation.”
“That made me feel powerful about the immigrant experience.”
“Whatever you do in life, do it with all your passion.”
“I always had this feminist push in me, even before I knew what feminism was.”
“Something did not feel right about not being treated the same.”
“I wanted to do something more meaningful.”
“I was missing that passion and that fire that I had all through high school and college.”
“I started listening to podcasts and reading books about being your own boss.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- The Empowerment Bag on Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-empowerment-bag/x/4581013
- The Empowerment Bag website: https://theempowermentbag.com
- The Empowerment Bag on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theempowermentbag
- The Empowerment Bag on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theempowermentbag
- Common Objective: https://www.commonobjective.co
- New Light: http://www.newlightindia.org
- UpWork: https://www.upwork.com