At Sea & Grass, we’ve always believed in making a difference. It started with using natural and sustainable materials to fashion seagrass bags. But then we realized our business model must involve more than a great handbag. Sea & Grass needed to give back to the same communities where the idea began—Thailand.
Thailand is known for spicy food and friendly people. But if you look past the smiles, you’ll notice the income disparity and education gaps. According to the World Bank, roughly 10% of the population lives in poverty.
The group affected the most is usually women and children. Living in poverty in Thailand means that you have less access to quality education and may mean you have to choose between feeding your family or educating your children.
As a mom, teacher, and Thai American, I wanted to improve lives through education. This desire to have a direct impact on Thai communities and for the same weavers who craft our bags gave birth to the Areeya Scholarship Fund with Sea & Grass.
When my oldest daughter was born, we gave her the middle name Areeya. This name means generosity and giving in Thai, traits we hoped to instill in her. Beliefs we infuse into our business model with the Areeya Scholarship Fund. For every bag sold, a portion of our profits go to the Areeya Scholarship Fund.
The fund benefits Thai weaver communities by providing financial means for young women and children to attend school. Each year, 670,000 children leave school due to poverty.
Impoverished families pay about 22% of their income on education compared to 6% for wealthier families. In the end, only 5% of children from poor families make it to college.
Our hope is that through the Areeya Scholarship Fund, we can make a difference in the lives of the Thai weavers and their families. We sponsor individual students who apply for scholarships. One student lost her mother in a car accident with only one year left of school.
Her father was unemployed and unable to support her. She applied for loans with no success. Believing that it was hopeless, she almost gave up. But through the Areeya Scholarship Fund, she finished her last year of nursing school. In her own words, "This will help me finish my nursing program so I can go to the city and work and get a higher paying job. Then I can feed my family."
We are grateful to have this opportunity to give back to Thai communities and help students reach their full potential. Each bag you take into your home helps people achieve their dreams. Our dream is that Sea & Grass can continue to be more than just a bag.