I founded VIA in 2005 a few years after graduating from the Royal College of Art in London where I did a degree by project researching the challenges faced by artisans in the majority world.
I saw the need for better design, communication and access to markets for social businesses and individuals. There was huge potential to build a fairer more just world using design-So the vision for VIA was inspired!
At VIA we love working in partnership with small businesses and ngos in India and the UK, making a difference through design, training and supplier enabling. We raise funds for VIA by selling our own ranges of products, which provides fairly paid employment, especially for women in situations where there are few opportunities.
VIA has a triple bottom line - profit, which is reinvested to further our charitable objects, people, who we see empowered through our work, and social, environmental and spiritual impact.
We choose to be a charitable company-not because we give handouts or encourage dependency, but because we have found the catalyst of connecting small scale manufacturers and artisans is greatly assisted by partnering with designers and technical consultants who have an understanding of market trends and demands.
We have had over thirty talented volunteers since we started VIA, all of whom have amazingly raised their own support to work with us, and many of whom have come back several times. We are now starting to raise support to employ a core team to help us expand so we can have an even greater impact, building on what we have developed so far.
While profit generated through our sales is reinvested in our supplier enabling objects, as well as donations received, we are also raising funds to establish a VIA hub in London which will provide a place for workshops and training.
We raised significant funding for equipment and workshops for several projects over the eight years, and this is already making a difference to communities and individual livelihoods. Funds have come in unexpected ways, for instance when friends and family with special celebrations decided to ask friends coming to their party to make donations to VIA instead of giving presents.
We helped raise funds for a medical clinic (in south India) for Mahalir Aran Trust where our main supplier is based and for equipment and workshops. Daily clinics and regular medical camps are now providing more specialised medical help and are much appreciated by the local community.
During 2013-14 we are fundraising for VIA's supplier enabling and business development work through which we will be able to partner with communities to help build even more sustainable businesses.
Your support is greatly appreciated. You can Giftaid through Charity choice if you are a UK tax payer paying enough tax to reclaim the amount of tax relief that can be reclaimed on your donation.
You can read more about VIA at www.viadesign.org
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