How can a purse prevent poverty anywhere, let alone Pakistan? Good question. The answer is Popinjay, a high class handbag company that employs Pakistani women to embroider their products. The company is committed to providing fair salaries and safe working environments for their Pakistani employees. Their handbags are made with expensive leather and silk that is stitched by hand.

Saba Gul is the founder of Popinjay, formerly known as the non-profit organization BLISS. Gul is Pakistani and attended school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before landing a high-paying engineering job. Gul left this job to create Popinjay and simultaneously offer a way out to young female Pakistanis. Popinjay’s founder knew first hand that youths in Pakistan were known to abandon their education in favor of working for whatever wages they could secure.

Gul’s decision to turn BLISS from a non-profit company into a for-profit luxury business was extremely smart both for her and for her employees. Her mission was to make a difference in the lives of Pakistani women; by using economics and business savvy, she has accomplished that more effectively than her non-profit tactics ever have.

Business methods as the solution to poverty is an idea that is gaining more and more momentum in the fight against poverty today. Instead of just giving handouts and donations, people and companies are seeking to use innovative tools and product sales that allow people struggling with poverty to increase their own incomes. Gul researched excel and investor information so she could take meetings with potential donors and shareholders to launch Popinjay in the Pakistani fashion market.

One of Gul’s investors connected her to a high end tannery where she gets the leather for the handbags. Since raising over $200,000 for Popinjay, Gul is now backed by a team of marketers, designers and sales professionals. She is able to give her female Pakistani employees wages two times higher than what they were earning at BLISS and great quality of life through their employment. Gul and Popinjay prove that business ventures can vastly improve the lives of those fighting poverty.

The Popinjay website describes how the fashion brand is a voice in the market for global justice. There is a page on the website specifically dedicated to spreading knowledge of how Popinjay is committed to changing the world for the better through helping their employees. Glamour and fashion aside, it is safe to say that Popinjay does a lot more in the struggle against inequality than an average handbag vendor.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Popinjay, CNN, Spades and Silk
Photo: Spades and Silk