Giving Back

It is our mission to make a positive difference in the world. The factories in India that produce our bags all share this mission. Besides trade relations, we also want to have a positive impact on the surrounding communities, the people, and the climate. That is why we donate 1% of O My Bag's annual revenue to support projects which focus on women empowerment, education and environmental innovation. So far, 17.292 lives have been positively impacted through our support. You can read more about these projects below.

The Brickfield Schools

The Brickfield Schools project is run by the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC). Throughout India there are thousands of brickfields – open air factories where clay bricks are made by hand. Most of the workers are migrants from impoverished districts who, with their children, spend up to eight months of the year in the brickfields. During all this time, the children receive no formal education. The Brickfield Schools are open-air schools, where the children receive basic education 3 hours per day. This will give them a chance to improve their chances in life. The curriculum of the schools is tailored to the context and needs of the migrant children.

O My Bag finances the full operations of three schools every school year, providing education for over 300 children. We also offer support by donating school backpacks for all children.

• Not only did the children benefit, but their families were included in the project too, for example through counseling on the importance of sending your children to school and awareness-raising sessions for parents on a wide range of topics, from safe social distancing to menstrual health.

KMWSC organized a special workshop for adolescent girls within the Brickfield Schools project.

• A lot of focus was placed on health during and in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. For example, regular health checks by a medical practitioner were organized for the children, and where necessary medication was freely distributed.

• During heavy Covid lockdowns, migrant workers did not earn any money, meaning they weren’t able to feed their families. Therefore KMWSC distributed ration packages amongst those in need.

Girls professional skills training in Kolkota
Professional skills training for women & girls

Since 2021 we have started a professional skills training project for vulnerable women and girls in Kolkata together with KMWSC. The project is meant for young women and girls who for example dropped out of school, are prone to trafficking or forced to leave their family. KMWSC will train those women and girls to become professionals in a certain field, so that they can become confident and financially independent. Training courses that they offer are: computer skills, beautician skills, baking, tailoring and fashion designing and the courses are full time, for 3 to 6 months depending on the topic. Since women empowerment is a core focus of O My Bag, this project is a great match for us.

The Naz Foundation India

In June 2022, we rolled out a Pride campaign with our Rainbow Webbing Straps. But we cannot produce and sell Pride merchandise for a short time and capitalize on the LGBTQ+ community without actually supporting it. Therefore we have been looking for a long term partner in India to support the LGBTQ+ community in India for the long haul. The Naz Foundation has made this possible. Naz is an Indian non-profit organization. It was founded in 1994 in New Delhi by Anjali Gopalan and started its work by addressing issues of HIV/AIDS and sexuality. The foundation’s vision is “to create a just and equitable society by transforming individuals from socially and economically excluded communities into agents of change.” The word ‘naz’ translates from Urdu as ‘pride.’

Our donations help the Naz Foundation build a new community center in New Delhi. This center will be the first of its kind in New Delhi. It will serve as a “hub” where people can receive face-to-face counseling, professional and career training, STD testing, clinic referrals, and many more points of support. More importantly, the center will be able to provide the visitors with a network of like-minded people. This will be a safe space to create unity and find chosen families, attend group counseling, or simply sit inside and read in the comfort of the planned library. The desperate need for such a community center is evident: Every month, Naz receives over 70 serious calls for help on their dedicated LGBTQIA+ helpline and constantly receives requests for help in their DM’s on social media, but it isn’t easy to meet every need without a physical hub.

Future Hope

Every night in Kolkata children can be found sleeping on the streets and in slums, vulnerable, undernourished and neglected. They have little or no ability to change their lives because they are trapped in the so-called poverty cycle. In India, it would take 7 generations for a member of a poor family to achieve average income. It is Future Hope's mission to break this cycle for these children in Kolkata.

Future Hope has been active in Kolkata for over 35 years, providing housing, accredited education, mentoring and sports for over 3.000 children. Their long experience ensures that they fully understand the challenges these children face and that they are able to offer solutions that dramatically and permanently change their lives and break the poverty cycle. Future Hope is very proud of their alumni who have become self-reliant, hardworking members of society, with steady income and happy families. And we are super happy to work together with Future Hope.

The Cup

The Cup is a café founded by an organization called Joyya. The purpose of this women-only cafe is to provide employment and support for women in at-risk groups. Located in the Red Light District of Kolkata, this cafe is a safe space for women to build healthy relationships, grow a supportive community and get inspired for the future. With the money raised from our Black Friday campaign 2018, we were able to donate € 9.000 to The Cup, enabling them to continue their incredible work in the local community. 

The name of the cafe is a reference to the very popular ‘cha’ cups in India. After being used, the disposable clay cups are discarded and lay without a purpose in the gutter. In The Cup cafe, they serve chai from beautiful cups that have been hand-painted by the women, items that are cherished and looked after. This represents what ‘The Cup’ is all about, providing a place for women in the area to feel supported and respected. Women can come to chat, laugh and express some of their deeper concerns.

"You must be brave with your life, so others can be brave with theirs."