Annually, on the 8th of March, women around the world are celebrated for their perseverance in breaking barriers, for rising against the status quo and for their infinite love and care to the less fortunate. This International Women’s Day, we have highlighted nine women in the impact industry empowering other women; through providing means of income or through their fight for equal rights.
Under this umbrella, it includes Tanoti Crafts, an award-winning social enterprise that serves to preserve the heritage and empower artisans in rural communities. Tanoti’s weaving community consists of 22 Sarawakian ladies who weave the traditional songket.
Behind this transformative social enterprise is Jacqueline Fong or more fondly known as Jackie. Prior to stepping into the social impact space, Jackie was an investment banker for at least 18 years. A series of events led her to return to her home state of Sarawak where she founded Tanoti Crafts in 2012.
Women in rural areas are often outside of the workforce due to factors such as lack of education and caretaking responsibilities. By providing alternative employment options, Tanoti Crafts is empowering rural womenfolk.
I love making a difference! The dynamic nature of my work keeps me interested, and the fact that I am making a difference in lives drives me to perform. – Jacqueline Fong, co-founder of Tanoti Crafts
Tanoti Crafts has also developed an initiative to uplift the craft of the Penan communities by getting 23 remote Penan villages involved. Over the years, more people are participating in the crafts ecosystem, both men and women – that would only mean a more vibrant space.
Tanoti Crafts is the recipient of awards such as the World Craft Council Award of Excellence for Handicraft 2014 and 2016, the MaGIC Amplify Award 2015 and the British Council- Arthur Guinness Entrepreneur for Good People’s Choice Award 2014.
Ten years in the industry has been a steep learning curve for Jacqueline. She is working on a larger purpose, and her mission includes nation-building through craft. Jacqueline is set on developing a sector that has been largely ignored but has immense potential to contribute substantially to the nation’s economy.
For 10 years, I believed I had been empowering artisans – but actually, what I meant to be doing is to develop a largely ignored sector. But crafts actually has immense potential to contribute substantially to the nation’s economy.- Jacqueline Fong, co-founder of Tanoti Crafts