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 and people. That is why we donate 1% of O My Bag's annual revenue to support local projects which focus on women empowerment or education. So far, 9.189 lives have been positively impacted through our support. You can read more about these projects below. 

Brickfield Schools Project

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.

We offered support by donating school backpacks for all children, and for the school year 2020-2021, we financed the full operations of three schools, providing education for 175 children.

• Not only did the children benefit, but their families were also 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 this year. For example, regular health checks by a medical practitioner were organized for the children, and where necessary medication was freely distributed.

• During heavy 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
Skills training
Professional Skills Training for women & girls

Since 2021 we have started a professional skills training project for vulnerable women and girls in Kolkata. These are young women and girls who for example dropped out of school, are prone to trafficking or forced to leave their family. The project aims to 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 Cup

The Cup is a café founded by an organization called Freeset Global. The purpose of this women only cafe is to provide employment and support for women who were trafficked into prostitution. 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. The aim is to introduce the women to an alternative life and believe that a better future is possible for them too.

"You must be brave with
your life, so others can
be brave with theirs."
Doctor checking up on woman at Brick Field School
Man arranging packages of medicine
Covid Support
Brickfield Schools

During the nationwide lockdown in India at the beginning of the pandemic, life came to an abrupt halt. This unfortunate situation left the brickfield workers without work, a loss of income, and a lack of government support, on top of not being able to return to their homes and families due to the closing of public transport. The migrant workers were isolated in the brickfields without money, food, and protective equipment.

KMWSC set up an emergency response in reaction to this precarious situation and took action to help these families meet their basic needs. Thanks to O My Bag’s loyal customer support, O My Bag was able to donate €5,200 to KMWSC’s COVID-19 emergency fund in April. The money came from the 2019 Black Friday Fund and was originally intended to provide all Brickfield School children with a school kit or to set up a sports event. However, we decided that the precarious situation called for a redirection of the funds.

With O My Bag’s donation, KMWSC could provide food for 350 families, helping approximately 1750 people during this unpredictable time. The fund provided ration kits with rice, pulses, salt, oil, potatoes, additional spices, nutritional supplements, and also milk and porridge for the children. In addition, every family was provided with masks, hand sanitizer, and washing detergent. This ensured that sanitary safety and basic food needs were met for as many families as possible.

Shivam Pandey

Our Indian photographer Shivam Pandey usually earns a majority of his income with guided phototours, through selling his prints, and also by employment from companies like us. With the travel restrictions, Shivam’s primary income was limited and he faced a lot of financial and creative uncertainty. We have always had a great partnership with Shivam and wanted to support him during this difficult time. Therefore, we started selling some of his beautiful photography prints on our webshop. Additionally, we gave him an advance for the next job to ensure our relationship can continue in the future.

India photography print in frame
Indian temple picture in frame