Lifting Filipino Artisans out of Poverty

Rags2Riches, Inc. is a for-profit social enterprise based in Manila, Philippines that aims to provide income opportunities and market access to poor Filipinos through livelihoods for its artisan partners and their communities. By providing training in weaving skills and financial literacy, Rags2Riches assists each artisan, their families, and their communities. The enterprise creates eco-friendly and fashionable products, such as purses, wallets, and home accessories, made out of upcycled scrap material. In addition to providing livelihoods, Rags2Riches educates artisans in financial literacy and basic business skills, raises their awareness of health and education opportunities, and supports their personal and community development.

For seven weeks in the summer of 2014, three fellows traveled to Manila to work with Rag2Riches and interacted with its artisan communities as they underwent their projects. To assist in impact measurement and contribute to the tool used for artisan training, the fellows produced a social impact survey mobile application and improved the Rags2Riches community expansion module.




Social Enterpise:

Catherine Rose Grimes
Garrett Eggen
Sally Ulmer 

Faculty Research Mentors:
Dr. Laura Nichols

Dr. Silvia Figueira
Computer Engineering


Action Research Findings // Sally Ulmer The fellows set out to meet the research needs of Rags2Riches with the goals of improving impact measurement and expanding the training plan that is used in artisan communities. The first goal was accomplished through assessing the effectiveness of Rags2Riches’ existing social impact survey, creating a condensed survey, and piloting this in the field, allowing the fellows to determine how to best measure social impact. This resulted in the team’s first product which is a social impact survey mobile application. The fellows met their goal of improving and expanding the current Rags2Riches training plan as they added more clear learning objectives and personal and business skills education to the curriculum. This product is an improved community expansion module that includes a 12-month training guide and progressive evaluation form to track artisans’ progress.

Social Impact Survey // Catherine Rose Grimes To improve impact measurement, the fellows created and piloted a social impact survey. The purpose of the survey is to develop social impact measurements that will allow the enterprise to assess artisans’ livelihood development and quality of life. In order to improve efficiency of data collection and analyses, this paper-based survey was then converted into a mobile application, upon return to campus in the fall.

Community Expansion Module // Garrett Eggen The fellows also improved the existing Rags2Riches training plan for new artisan communities, resulting in a community expansion module with livelihood teachings, skills trainings, and community values modules.