My name is Ana Chico and I am a Spaniard living in Vienna (Austria). Economist of profession and designer of vocation, in 2002 I decided to give a turn to my life, I gave up my career in the logistic sector in the UK, travelled to Cambodia and settled there for more than 4 years to work in the social sector, setting up a social enterprise for women in vulnerable circumstances.
Over the ensuing 4 years I spent there, I learned about women trafficking and sexual slavery. As my understanding of the abuses suffered by girls and women deepened, I better understood that their initial hope and motivation had been to find a better life.
Driven by their desperation to leave behind their miserable conditions, they unwittingly accepted deceptive job offers. Others still, who found themselves in piles of debts, ended up in the paws of mafias and pimps, being sold and prostituted in the brothels of Phnom Penh or even on its streets.
When I met some of these women, they were already out of that hell. However, their constant health problems, lack of self-esteem, addictions and traumas bore witness to the horrific experiences they had endured.
These problems, as well as the stigma attached to their history in sexual exploitation, meant that integrating back into normal Cambodian village or city life was extremely difficult for them. The road to recovery is long and hard and even then it is possibly a lonely journey in a country where marriage is seen as an ultimate aim for women. Some, believing that they could never aim to have anything better, went back to prostitution, sometimes even back to their brothel, to the endless abuses, having lost hope for good.
It was in this situation that I set up a Social Enterprise to offer these women a decent job opportunity in dignified conditions, with a fair salary, health coverage, maternity leave benefits and in general, a safe and secure working environment. The women were also offered the opportunity to participate actively in the day-to-day running of the business, take part in numerous self-development trainings and workshops as well as work with their own community of survivors able to give support and strength to each other. Our objective from the beginning was to go beyond the simply production of high quality and exclusive products, but to also be a way towards social inclusion, elimination of poverty and holistic development and empowerment of these women.
When I left Cambodia 4 years later, it was with the firm intention of continuing to support this and other similar projects in other parts of the world.
And this is how Bloombo came to life, as an ethical fashion business that produces high quality and exclusive products in developing countries under fair working conditions.
We also provide technical assistance to our partners on design and quality, collaboratively developing products that fit our and their target markets. At the same time Bloombo offers a decent alternative to consumers in west, where buyers are increasingly concerned, not only by the product and its quality, but also about who produced it and under what conditions.
Buyers in the west are now increasingly informed by the truth behind the manufacturing industry and are better empowered to make safe choices for the state of humanity and the Earth.
And here we are, to tell these stories, to ensure that behind each of our products there is a hope for a better world. Using our consumer power in solidarity towards a way to equality and social justice.