Pioneering job creation at the bottom of rural poverty in Peru and Thailand: Inside women's prisons.

Carcel is a slow fashion label that enhances rural development through essential luxury clothing produced by marginalised women in prison.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

CARCEL - Made In Prison IVS

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10 - 50

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Denmark

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Peru: Cusco Thailand: Chiang Mai


Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Since year 2000, the number of female prisoners has increased by 100% globally. The majority of female prisoners are serving long sentences for poverty-related crimes such as drug trafficking. It is predominantly young mothers from rural areas with low level of education and literacy who face greater disparities associated health and social inequities. Both in Peru and Thailand, these women are some of the most marginalized people, locked away and forgotten about.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Our solution is an innovative supply chain that makes essential luxury clothing produced by marginalized women in prison. We go where the best and most sustainable materials in the world meet the highest rate of poverty-related crime. This way, we transform lost time into skills, fair wages and hopes for a better future. We believe women in prison should be able to earn a fair income from their long working hours and diligence, so they can cover costs, basic needs, and support their children, while gaining skills they can use when released and eventually contribute to the community. Through our business model we create paid jobs for women in prison by providing designs, developing their skills and placing orders. She sews in her name in the label to give her pride and a sense of purpose and connection. The women come from across the country and when released back into her community, she can use her knitting skills and a her knitting machine as business in a box and make an income.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We are the first international company to set up a high skilled production with ethical standards in women’s prisons in both Peru and Thailand. We engage with foreign governments and institutions and have an ambition to grow organically to ensure that our ethical standards are being sustained while we work to scale our concept to women's prisons worldwide. We believe that our work can lay the foundation for creating structural improvements for women in prison in both countries. Today, we have a factory in Cusco’s women’s prison in Peru employing 15 women. We will grow our production to the double next year. Also, we will commence our second factory in Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution in Thailand in February 2018. We create environmental impact by using only 100% natural and locally sourced materials in both countries (alpaca wool in Peru and silk in Thailand). We have no traditional fashion seasons and sell exclusively online, eliminating waste and pollution.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

We have created a fashion label that makes luscious Danish design pieces in only the world's most luxurious materials and made exclusively by women in prison. We launched our webshop in August 2017 and believe that there is great value and dignity in doing fashion differently. We aim to break even in 3 years. Our annual budget comes from 20% own investments, 20% earned income, . 30% prono bono hours by staff, 30% grants. After breakeven, profits will be reinvested into opening up new productions in women’s prisons in new countries.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We are the first ethical high skilled labor initiative for female prisoners in in Peru and Thailand. We give new skills and good wages to women in prison through high quality garments. Historically, the main attraction for the private sector to engage with prison labour has been exploitative low wages and low skills. We believe that our work can set prevalence and create structural change enhancing good job opportunities for women in prison which breaks with the spiral of rural poverty.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

In Kenya I became curious about why women were in prison and decided to go and visit. It became clear that these were women from rural areas and poverty was the main reason of their incarceration. They sewed every day, but did not have any access to market where they could sell their products. Women in prison are forgotten worldwide, particularly in poorer countries. I decided to change that and to create an initiative that would put focus on this marginalised group through products they were proud of making. I started looking into which countries had an intersection between the highest quality materials in the world and high rates of female incarceration due to poverty. I combined this with Danish design - to create change through aspirational products. Peru has alpaca wool and high rates of female incarceration due to drug trafficking limited especially to rural areas.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jonathan Litscher

This is a wonderful initiative. I love the little detail that the women sew their names into their creations. That must be really valuable to them as a source of pride and self-confidence. Congratulations and all the best!

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