Mekong Plus is a Social Enterprise with one aim and that is to create sustainable employment for under-privileged women in remote and rural regions of Vietnam and Cambodia.
The organization was created in 2001 by Thanh Truong, a dentist from Ho Chi Minh with a passion for social development. At that time 35 women were employed to handmake high quality quilts from home. Fast forward to today and Mekong Plus now employs over 340 women in communities northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and Svay Rieng in Cambodia. They have expanded from quilt making to bamboo bikes, fashion accessories and the Water Hyacinth bags showcased in this collection.
Besides direct economic benefit to the women Mekong Plus strives to support the wider community through development initiatives such as micro-financing, scholarships, and health, hygiene and agricultural education programs.
No wonder they say “Every item purchased from Mekong+ is a gift that gives twice"
I am incredibly humbled that Mekong Plus is now working with Temples and Markets to bring their Hand-Crafted Exquisite Quilts and Eco-Friendly Water Hyacinth Basket Bags to you.
I first saw the Water Hyacinth Bags in the window of the Mekong Quilts Store in the magical Vietnamese town of Hoi An and was awestruck by their design and uniqueness.
The Water Hyacinth plant is a prolific grower and grows in abundance in the waterways of Cambodia and Vietnam. It is generally considered a pest and an invasive species in wet areas. The ladies of the Long Binh Commune in the Mekong Delta, where Mekong Plus has its Water Hyacinth workshop, take the hyacinth's stems, dry them and interlink them together to form the braid which makes the beautiful and sustainable bags. Water hyacinth is known for its soft feel and distinctive smell, reminiscent of leather. You'll just love your bag.
A Message from the Mekong+ Water Hyacinth workshop in Long Binh Commune, Hau Giang Province, Mekong Delta
"Your purchase of a water hyacinth product from Mekong+ goes a long way to support our artisans as well as benefiting their families and communities in the Hau Giang Province, Vietnam. The employment program created by Vietnamese NGO Anh Duong in conjunction with Mekong Plus has benefited many women in the Mekong Delta.
Mrs Be Hai is one of them, she has worked as a water hyacinth artisan for the past 5 years after being introduced to the employment program in 2011. Currently she is the group leader of the workshop in Long Binh commune consisting of 8 women, who have all been working with her for 3 years. The women benefit from a stable and good wage and strive to do their best. As group leader Mrs Be Hai is responsible for buying the raw materials. With 1 bag of dried water hyacinth (2kg) she can make about 5 – 7 bags a week, each bag will earn her $4US. Excluding the raw materials, she is able to earn approximately $75 US per month. She can work from home which affords her more time with her family.
She says "I can earn a good income to spend on our daily life and our children’s education”, things that may not be possible if she was to find work elsewhere."