The Eco-Textile Factory of the Future
Manufacture a luxury-ecological fabric from vegetal wastes to support the most vulnerable women and their family in Cambodia.
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Samatoa Lotus Textiles
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Cambodia: Siem Reap & Kamping Poy (Battambang Province)
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Although Cambodia is rich in natural resources, decades of war and internal conflicts have left it one of the less advanced country in the world. Nowadays, its economy depends mainly from agriculture and textile industry.
Moreover, in Cambodia’s traditional society, women are usually the most disadvantaged and are less valued than men. Persistent cultural barriers lead women to poverty, illiteracy, poor training and other obstacles that prevent them from effectively participating in Cambodia’s development.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Cambodia and especially the rural areas are full of valuable but unexploited natural resources.
Used in religious rituals, lotus flowers have been the only thing harvested for generations while the stems were left in the water. We now weave our lotus fabric from them. There is a big potential for this valuable waste; in Cambodia, people cultivate more than 50 000 hectares of lotus. We only use the best species, the "Sacred Lotus" (Nelumbo Nucifera) which is only available in a few countries. Thus, our business has a high potential of replicability in those countries.
By creating profit through a unique value proposition to enter the mid and high luxury market, Samatoa bridges the gap between the rich and the poor. This model allows empowerment and international recognition of our farmers, spinners and weavers. Following the logic of circular economy, we have a fully integrated process, fulfilling our social commitment to help rural women to support their family.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
The basics of the our model rely on the belief that the most sustainable economic development is intrinsically linked to the best social, environmental, and economic practices.
The fabrics of Samatoa are sustainable and eco-friendly;
First we are using a vegetal waste which is the lotus stems. No source of polluting energy, no chemical or toxic substitute, and no heavy metal is used in the manufacturing process of lotus fabric with the greatest respect for nature.
The fabrics of Samatoa are socially responsible;
Our model aims at improving living standards and increasing family income within the supply chain. At our lotus farms in Siem Reap and Komping Poy, we already employ more than 30 well-trained and highly skilled women spinners and weavers from rural surrounding areas. We are also working with more and more farmers (10), managing the lotus fields and collecting the stems in a sustainable way that can generate a new source of income for their household.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
The founder, along with three other shareholders, with undisputed expertise on the textile industry, supports this initiative. Our market is the eco-friendly luxury textiles sector (est. around $500M, only 0.15% of the luxury market).
Our model is profitable thanks to our loyal customers (fashion designer, concept store ...) and to our network of ambassadors (Europe, North America and Asia). Social and environmental conscious businesses and famous players in the luxury industry have shown us an increased interest; LVMH and Kering are both selected our fabrics in their Materials Library.
Now, we are seeking further grants and partnerships to support the consolidation by amplifying social benefits and the replication of the project all around Cambodia.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Our main success is made from the lotus. Also, we produce fabrics from kapok and banana and continuously experiment fibers from Cambodian plants to create one new eco-luxury textile every year.
Guided by the principles of the circular economy and our will to generate sustainable source of income for the communities, we'll build partnerships to valorize our wastes by:
producing added-value products as organic lotus tea
promoting agro-ecology practices with compost and mulching from lotus
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
During a trip, I was toughened by the poverty in Cambodia. With these rural communities surrounded by unexploited natural resources, I had the idea of developing natural textiles and bringing back to life forgotten skills.
In 2009, I was introduced to the art of robes made from lotus fibers worn by Burmese monks. I set up a laboratory at my Siem Reap home in search of the perfect lotus to create the unique fabric. Setting my eyes on a spectacular 10,000-hectare lotus lake at Kamping Poy,I knew I had found my nirvana.
The Lotus appears as the cornerstone of my project, offering nobility of soul, beauty, and purity. For me, it represents the culmination of Samatoa’s ultimate quest for excellence.
Seduced by the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, I am convinced that everyone can surpass their condition and elevate themselves, « like the lotus flower growing above the muddy waters ».
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Upon recommendation from others