Raw silk is a crucial element to the cultural heritage of Madagascar. The members of “MADA Landy Threads” (MLT) are located in Sandrandahy, in the central highlands of Madagascar. They create all naturally dyed, hand woven products with all profits going directly back to the empowered, female members’ households and communities. Due to their recent success abroad, a large demand is in place for their silks. However, the native tapia forest, (where the cocoons originate) are constantly deforested. The forests are destroyed by bush fires set by people trying to make a living by selling charcoal and firewood. By limiting cocoon availability, this issue is hindering MLT’s ability to expand to new available markets.
Another issue for MLT is the lack of investment on education. The daughters of the members are the most assertive and diligent students in the village. Their school fees are insured by their mother’s sales, but university is impossible due to the expense. If there is no education investment, the potential of further sustainable silk export development will be limited. A lack of a strong leadership group within MLT will reduce future growth. Most of the members of MLT are older women but their daughters hold a unique interest in the organization’s development by new technologies, style enhancements, and other initiatives. At the moment, only one member has studied beyond high school. So many other young women want to follow in her path, but are limited by insufficient funds.
The life of an association is like a silk house; from inside it improves.” This Malagasy proverb appropriately explains the necessity of social change for MLT. The solution to these hindering concerns is an investment in both reforestation and higher education. By eradicating these two issues, the members of MLT will have a more effective chance of attaining sustainability by properly taking advantage of their biggest opportunity in the developed world. By incorporating more citizens of the community, MLT will demonstrate the importance of respecting the environment, and the forest in particular. This will act as a tool to recruit others to join MLT’s mission of empowerment and poverty eradication by business development of local artisans. More people in the community will benefit from MLT’s international success. This success will continue to attract other silk organizations to join and supply to an even larger market.
By also including education as an initiative, young MLT members will gain a unique insight in how to manage their members and expand their enterprise so that it can have lasting positive effects on its beneficiaries. The unique skill set of each member will give them a chance to take control of their livelihoods, realize their ultimate potential, and transform their world. The members will continue to play a key role in preserving this art form for the generations to come while also telling the story of their ancestors through each scarf they sell.