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By Luis Pereira

Founded with a profound intention to support individuals affected by conflict, this social enterprise has crafted a masterpiece of sustainability, dignity, and inclusivity from its inception. The -able emerges as an example of compassion, and entrepreneurship to ameliorate the lives of displaced individuals by providing a way for them to sell their work.

Inception and Early Vision
The story of The -able is driven by a desire for change and emphasizing empathy. The founder, Kirstine Kruse, deeply moved by the plight of people forced to flee during her time in Lebanon and Greece, witnessed firsthand the untapped potential and resilience within displaced communities. She then realized that solutions lay not necessarily in charity, but in providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity.

Kirstine thus embarked on a journey driven by a profound concern for those forced to flee their homes due to conflict. Her experiences working with people forced to flee in Lebanon and Greece deepened her understanding of the challenges faced by displaced communities. Kirstine felt compelled to make a difference, but struggled with how to best contribute in a meaningful way. Despite recognizing the resourcefulness and creativity of the people she worked with, she observed a lack of direct access to the funds needed to realize their ideas and talents.

It was back in Denmark, faced with the commonplace ritual of corporate gift-giving, that the seeds of The -able were sown. Reflecting on the overconsumption and environmental impact of mass-produced gifts, Kirstine envisioned an alternative: ethically and sustainably produced meaningful gifts that at the same time would help those in need. Inspired by the craftsmanship and skills of artisans she had encountered, she set out to create a platform that would connect these artisans with consumers who shared her values.

As demand for the unique, purpose-driven gifts grew among colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, Kirstine expanded her vision to include private individuals. The enthusiasm and positive reception to her products fueled her passion, driving her to continue seeking inspiration and feedback from markets and interactions with customers. Kirstine’s journey from working directly with people forced to flee to founding The -able is a testament to her commitment to creating positive change through ethical commerce and empowering marginalized communities. And so the seeds of The -able were sown, with a commitment to ethical commerce and a belief in the transformative power of economic empowerment.

Their product:
The -able specializes in selling crafts made by people forced to flee, aiming to support individuals forced to flee their homes by providing them with opportunities to earn a living from their skills and passions. Primarily focusing on corporate gifting, The -able offers a unique alternative to mass-produced items, providing companies with ethically and sustainably produced gifts. These gifts, crafted by talented artisans, serve as meaningful, exquisite, displays of appreciation while also making a positive social impact.
In addition to catering to corporate clients for events like Christmas gifts, The -able also engages with the wider community through markets held across Denmark. These markets provide a platform for customers to discover and purchase the unique handcrafts, fostering a deeper connection between consumers and the artisans behind the products. By selling both to businesses and individual customers, The -able amplifies the voices and talents of people forced to flee, promoting inclusivity, sustainability, and social responsibility in every purchase.

Values and Commitments
The -able is guided by a set of core values that underpin its operations and partnerships. Openness, dignity, diversity, equality, and sustainability build the backbone of its values, shaping every aspect of the company’s endeavors. Through transparent and authentic relationships with artisans, customers, and business partners, The -able fosters a culture of trust and mutual respect.

Celebrating diversity and challenging stereotypes, The -able amplifies the rich tapestry of cultures and traditions through its products and collaborations. By prioritizing fair wages, good working conditions, and co-determination, the company upholds the dignity and rights of the artisans it works with, empowering them to shape their own futures.

 

A Mission to Provide Sustainable Opportunities:
At the heart of The -able lies a powerful mission: to provide dignified and meaningful employment opportunities for people forced to flee, while preserving and revitalizing traditional crafts and skills. Through direct collaborations with artisans and local NGOs in conflict-affected regions, The -able ensures that every purchase directly benefits the individuals who create the crafts.

The impact of The -able’s initiatives reverberates across borders and communities. From supporting women’s collectives in refugee camps to funding free educational programs for asylum seekers, the company invests in both economic independence and personal development. The -able embraces sustainability in its practices, repurposing materials to create ethically produced goods.

Examples of its impact: 
The company supports three women’s collectives in Shatila and Bekaa refugee camps, providing assistance in design, production, and resale of their crafts. By empowering these collectives, The -able creates opportunities for women to generate income and gain financial independence. In Athens, The -able has funded 12 months of free English, sewing, and IT lessons for asylum seekers. This initiative not only enhances the skill sets of individuals but also facilitates their integration into society and fosters self-sufficiency. The -able demonstrates its commitment to sustainability by repurposing materials such as 250 kg of recycled plastic from Katsika’s refugee camp and material from inflatable boats and life jackets from Greek shores. This environmentally conscious approach minimizes waste and contributes to the conservation of resources.

The organization has also funded 1000 hours of free skateboard lessons for children and young people in Palestine, providing recreational opportunities and promoting community cohesion. This initiative not only enriches the lives of participants but also fosters a sense of joy and solidarity amidst adversity.

These numbers exemplify The -able’s multifaceted approach to social impact, spanning economic empowerment, education, environmental sustainability, and community engagement. Through these initiatives, the company endeavors to create a more inclusive and supportive world, one project at a time.


Community Engagement and Growth, partnerships:

The -able has fostered partnerships with over 30 NGOs and businesses across multiple countries, including Lebanon, Italy, France, Ukraine, Afghanistan, England, Syria, and Greece. These collaborations serve as vital conduits for supporting artisans and promoting sustainable commerce in conflict-affected regions. The partnerships span across various regions and communities affected by conflict, enabling the enterprise to reach a wide array of talented artisans and craftspeople.

By working directly with these organizations and individuals, The -able ensures that the profits from sales go directly back to the artisans, empowering them to achieve financial independence and sustain their traditional crafts. Through these collaborations, The -able not only fosters economic empowerment but also strengthens community ties and promotes social inclusion.

As a social enterprise deeply rooted in community engagement, The -able serves as a catalyst for positive change.Through partnerships with local NGOs and continuous dialogue with stakeholders, The -able navigates the complexities of social impact with humility and determination.

The business model:
The -able reinvests all potential profits back into the expansion of its partnerships and into supporting the NGOs it collaborates with. This commitment to reinvestment ensures that every purchase made contributes directly to the growth and sustainability of the social enterprise’s impact. By prioritizing the empowerment of artisans and the communities they belong to, The -able channels its turnover into creating lasting positive change, amplifying its mission of economic empowerment and social inclusion, fostering meaningful partnerships, supporting community development initiatives, and promoting ethical commerce.

Looking Ahead 
As The -able continues to grow and evolve, its vision remains unwavering: to create a more inclusive and supportive world, one artisan at a time. Through conscious consumption and collective action, The -able invites individuals to be part of a movement towards equality, dignity, and sustainability.

In a world where every purchase carries the potential for profound impact, The -able invites us to imagine a future where compassion and commerce intersect, where every artisan’s story is heard, and where hope is woven into the fabric of our communities.

 

 

The -able Fact Box:
Year of foundation –  2022

Location –  Copenhagen, Denmark

Area – Ethical commerce

Mission – To support people forced to flee by selling traditional handcrafts

Products – Handcrafts, gifts.

Number of employees/volunteers – 1

Yearly turnover – Unspecified

More about The -able:

https://www.theable.dk/
https://www.instagram.com/theable.dk

 

 

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