1. Q+A: Elevyn

    Posted by Claudia Low on March 30, 2009

    Elevyn buys and sells handmade items crafted by indigenous and marginalized communities, but don’t mistake it for charity. In more precise terms, Elevyn enable artisans ability to sell their crafts to a more global market. We talk to Elevyn founder, Sze Ning. 


    What’s the story behind Elevyn? 

    Devan Singaram and Mike Tee were always firm believers of fair trade and one day took the initiative to build a trading website based on the concept of social entrepreneurship.

    Thus the birth of Elevyn.com, a website that targets socially conscious consumers by ensuring every shop on the site is linked to a community-based cause. I hopped on board next!
     


    How exactly does Elevyn work?

    Let’s say a shopper buys something from Elevyn.com. 5% is automatically channeled to a cause the shop supports. Elevyn takes 5% from that for operational costs and PayPal transaction fees. The seller collects the remaining proceeds. Once funds reach $200, Elevyn will channel it to a nominated field partner who will ensure the cause gets its donation.

    The result is a shopper happy with his/her purchase that has simultaneously helped improve lives in an entire community!


    What communities are currently linked to Elevyn?

    Soning Craft & the Sinompuru Women’s Group from Kampung Tinangol, Kudat, Sabah; Tompoq Topoh from Kampung Bumbun, Carey Island; and Salaam Wanita from Kuala Lumpur.  We’re now in the process of getting more shops online from Cambodia.

    What are the communities’ situations?

    Tompoq Topoh & Soning Craft consist of indigenous women that are dependent on craft-making for income. Craft-making to them is also to uphold their unique culture and tradition which is threatened by modernization. Salaam Wanita is a group of urban poor women.
     


    How did you get in touch with them?

    I’ve been in contact with some of the groups for a few years through Gerai OA (a non-profit volunteered stall which sells crafts from the indigenous peoples of Malaysia also known as Orang Asal). In fact, the inspiration for Elevyn was to address the problem of expanding the reach of craftspeople to sell their crafts and share their stories. Other groups were either recommended or personally sought after.

    Is there a distinct difference in the weaving styles between the communities?

    The weaved items on shops on Elevyn are very distinct from one another as its materials vary from pandanus (Tompoq Topoh’s shops) to recycled magazines (Salaam Wanita’s shop).

     

    What’s the price range for your items?

    Prices range from USD3.50 for little brooches to USD20 for rare and exclusive items like this necklace. But most are within the range of USD10 – 20.


    Any future plans for Elevyn?

    Within the next few weeks, we’ll be hosting shops from Cambodia, so keep a look out for that. We’re also open to cooperating with existing outlets who’d like to carry products from Elevyn.

    + + +

    Remember that Elevyn contest we’re running? If you don’t, click here to do your part in awareness and win great prizes!

    Related links:
    Gerai OA Turns 3! on wildasia.net

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