Reese Fernandez

Rolex presents THE YOUNG LAUREATES: Reese Fernandez

Rolex presents THE YOUNG LAUREATES: Reese Fernandez

Reese holds a handwoven bag from the Rags2Riches program.
More than 12,000 families live among the hazards of Manila’s Payatas waste dump. When Reese Fernandez learned that women who earned a living there making rugs from scraps were being exploited by middlemen, she was provoked to act. In 2007 Fernandez co-founded Rags2Riches, which organized the women of Payatas and arranged for them to sell their products directly to retailers. More recently Fernandez and her team consulted designers and found methods of transforming the rugs into fashion handbags, eyeglass cases, wine bottle holders, and other products fit for sale in top end shops. Rags2Riches employs 300 women in Payatas, some of whom are now its partial owners. In addition to 40% of the retail price of each item, the women receive health insurance and training in personal finance and nutrition.