Massachusetts Institute of Technology



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BLISS: Business and Life Skills School

$5000 IDEAS Award

BLISS: Business and Life Skills School

Competition Year: 2009


Summary
Premium handmade fashion accessories that drastically boost incomes for marginalized girls and women.

Categories
Education and Training Finance and Entrepreneurship



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Our Pitch

BLISS is a for-profit social enterprise that produces premium fashion while creating jobs for underprivileged Pakistani women.

Despite amazing talent and craftsmanship, artisans in Pakistan struggle to make ends meet due to two gaps in their products: 1) design/aesthetics that meet the demands of urban customers, and 2) marketing & distribution challenges.

BLISS works with underprivileged women artisans, giving them design guidance, establishing rigorous quality control checks and connecting them to large markets globally.

We believe style and sustainability can co-exist. The fashion industry employs 250 million people (that’s 1/6th of the world’s population!), and 75% of these people live and work in the developing world. The massive size of this industry puts it in a unique position to tackle big problems like poverty. Yet this very industry is ranked 2nd worst in the world for social and environmental abuse. At BLISS, we dream of changing these statistics!


Impact

Boost the incomes of 50 women by up to 3 times

Who We Are

Saba Gul, MIT Student Saba Gul is the Co-Founder and CEO of BLISS, and a recent alumnus of MIT, from where she holds BS and MS degrees. She has a passion for social innovation, female education and entrepreneurship. Saba was an MIT Public Service fellow in Sri Lanka, where she worked on low-cost solar lighting for post-Tsunami refugees. She has also conducted workshops on entrepreneurship at universities in Africa. She sits on the board of the MIT Club of Minnesota, and volunteers her time for the Association for the Development of Pakistan.

Saba was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan.

Eleni Orphanides,MIT Student Eleni Orphanides is a Co-Founder of BLISS, with a special interest in development economics and human rights. She is the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Davis Peace Prize for which she implemented her project in Cyprus. Eleni holds a BS in Economics from MIT, where she gained a lot of experience working with and leading teams as part of the UA Senate. In addition, Eleni is an artist in her free time, and will be a valuable asset for designing the motifs that will be embroidered on the handbags. She is currently interning at Amnesty International.

Ghazala Mehmood, Community partner Ghazala Mehmood is presently pursuing an M.A. in International Education Development at Columbia University. She has worked as an educator with MESA California, an academic outreach program which supports educationally disadvantaged students. She also served on the Board of Directors and as a Program Officer at Barakat, our partner NGO in Attock. Ghazala holds a B.Sc. in Science from the University of Waterloo and a B.Ed. from Lakehead University in Canada. She speaks Pashto, one of the regional languages of our target community. She was born in Pakistan and raised in Toronto.

Nadeem Mazen, MIT Student Nadeem is a Masters student in Biological Engineering at MIT, and a freelance art consultant. He has extensive interest and experience in graphic design and video production. His art collection can be viewed at http://www.nadeemtron.com/. He will be the chief author of our comic strip.

Maryam Tahir Khan, Community Partner Maryam Tahir Khan is a graduate of the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan where she majored in painting. She comes from a family of artists and philanthropists, and has taught at the Beaconhouse National University. Her work has been exhibited at the Alhamra Art Gallery and the Hamil Gallery, to name a few. She is the main designer for BLISS products.

Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Community Partner Dr. Hussain is the Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. He has served as Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, and was responsible for the its policies in areas as Poverty Reduction, Gender Relations and Dynamics, NGOs, and Reform within the Public Sector. He heads the National Commission for Government Reform. Dr. Husain has also served as Chief Economist for Africa and later, Chief Economist of the World Bank for the East Asian and Pacific region Dr. Hussain holds a Masters degree in Development Economics from Williams College and a Ph.D in Economics from Boston University.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Barakat Inc.

Location

Attock, Pakistan

Description

Barakat exists to strengthen the fundamental human rights to education in South and Central Asia by providing exemplary basic education, increasing access to higher education and advancing literacy, particularly for women and children.


Location:

  • Service Location
    Hafizabad, Pakistan
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