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In keeping with VIA’s vision to see people empowered in places where it is difficult for them to thrive, we have a longstanding partnership with the Mahalir Aran Trust (MAT), which provides a safe place for women and children in rural South India, offering physical, emotional, practical and spiritual support. Via partners with MAT to provide training and opportunities for employment through business initiatives we have helped establish at Flowering Desert. We raised funds and project-managed the building of a medical clinic for MAT and the wider community. Opened in 2011, running clinics 6 days a week, it’s already making a difference. This year we hope to add a counselling service.
We have a special partnership with East Meets West India, a UK charity, which also raised funds for the building and equipping of the MAT clinic and running costs for the first three years of operation. Helen Collier, EMW India’s founder is a Via ambassador, promoting and selling our products which helps build more opportunities for fairly paid work, bringing hope and a brighter future to the community. EMW India supports the older girls through higher education and contributes to specific projects to support the beneficiaries of MAT as well as the surrounding community.
In 2010 we collaborated with Just Trade, an UK ethical business producing beautiful jewellery and supplying a wide range of UK retailers, including Oxfam and the V & A and an increasingly global market. VIA facilitated two workshops and periods of training at Flowering Desert, which have led to regular orders gradually scaling up as demand increases. The ladies at Flowering Desert have now trained other members of their production team. We are delighted with the results, which include a new range of jewellery specially designed by Grace Pinner for VIA, for our accessories collection, soon to be launched.
in 2008, we formed a partnership with Flowering Desert and ZOË Alliance, a social business which supplies the Canadian corporate gift market and reinvests a percentage of profits to community development in the villages where products they source are manufactured. Our customized hand-rolled recycled paper pens are popular and we have also helped to develop and supply several other products. Profits reinvested through Via to date contributed to the building of the MAT medical clinic.
Designing the difference
Collaborating with many talented designers and technical specialists has enabled us to design and develop beautiful products and ensure that our products are at the cutting edge. VIA also offers consultancy in supplier enabling, training and business development for our partners.
VIA has worked with textile designer Namrata Shah for six years, creating ranges of unique hand-woven silk scarves and stoles and encouraging the revival of this specialist craft in areas of India where it’s part of the local tradition.
Namrata writes: “We constantly work towards innovative hand-woven techniques to support our experienced and talented weavers, situated in remote villages. In a world where there is a decline in handloom products, it’s organisations like VIA which help promote this craft and offer a way to connect the producer, designer and the customer.” Recently VIA also started to add to its fabric design with exclusive hand-dyed block-printed fabrics, working with UK designer Stephanie Jennings, and Tharangini in Bangalore. The scarves are beautifully hand-finished by Sheela in Bangalore and Flowering Desert in Tamil Nadu.
Copyright Via Design 2008. Design: Liley Design Partners.