· By Emily Cunningham
GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK: A CONVERSATION WITH THE FOUNDER OF ZESA
This is the second in our three part #TrueBeautyGivesBack series, highlighting some of our favorite founders and giving you a chance to support some of our favorite social enterprises. This week, we sat down with Zesa founder Sindhura Sarikonda. Enter code 'ZESA25' at checkout, and through the end of December, we'll donate 25% of your purchase to Zesa's work, bringing education, training, and employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking in India.
How did Zesa get its start, and what makes your way of doing business unique?
Zesa started as an education program (Zesa Academy) for girls living in our shelters in India. We have two shelters that house survivors of human trafficking; many of the girls at our shelters can’t attend traditional school due to years of illiteracy and trauma. As a way of providing them with a means of financially sustaining themselves after leaving our shelters, we partnered with a design university in India to teach design skills. Shortly after, we expanded the program to include coursework on financial literacy, personal healthcare, and self-defense.
There are a tremendous amount of interest in designing and creating products from the girls, so we launched a small-scale retail arm to fund education costs for the program. The success of the retail arm allowed us to scale Zesa to over 1,200 girls. Today, Zesa is a self-sustaining model that educates and employs trafficking survivors. Every Zesa product is handcrafted by a survivor of human trafficking, using centuries-old Indian design techniques and the highest quality of indigenous materials. 100% of the profits from Zesa are used to help survivors build a new life.
How can our readers help/get involved?
Sharing our story with friends and loved ones is hugely helpful. Word-of-mouth has been an important part of our initial success and we just love when our customers find us through personal recommendations. For those looking to get deeply involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we have plenty of meaningful opportunities available!
What do you love most about your job?
I’ve had the incredible privilege of witnessing the transformation that takes place when you give a girl who has been exploited for years, a uniform, someone to teach her, and something to strive for. Since the inception of Zesa, I’ve seen our graduates thrive in their jobs, make a great living, and truly, begin a new life. That’s what I love most about my job.