How dozens of women in Nicaragua built their own factory for stitching T-shirts and socks of organic cotton.
The Nueva Vida region in Nicaragua was devastated a few years ago by hurricane Mitch. After their homes collapsed, the people had no choice but to look for work in sweatshops. Then the Jubilee House – which was setting up a refugee community for the homeless – came in contact with Bená Burda. Burda, the founder and director of Maggie’s Organics, was looking for a partner to sew her company’s organic cotton T-shirts and undershirts.
As a result, a group of women in Nueva Vida got together and formed a cooperative, Maquilador Mujeres. They built their own sewing factory and since 2000 the cooperative has been supplying end products, which are mainly sold via the Maquilador Mujeres website. There are now around 120 women working in the factory, who earn some 40 per cent more than they would in a sweatshop.
Maggie’s Organics also sells socks in a wide range of colours and sizes, for men and women. Some are made of cotton, others of wool, linen or hennep, but they’re all produced in a socially and ecologically responsible way. All the producers in the chain guarantee favourable working conditions. For instance, they have agreed to arrange medical insurance for the workers and give them holiday pay.