The Carrier Pigeon Project

People setting up businesses because they want to make a living out of helping people. It’s a story we hear often – frequency doing nothing to diminish the fact that it’s inspiring.

Meet Jezze and Riz Jao, the brother and sister team behind The Carrier Pigeon Project (TCPP). They sell shoes and bags that are fashion-forward and socially-conscious, as I like to call it. Buy any of their bags or shoes and part of the money you’ve given goes to World Vision’s ABK3 LEAP project.

LEAP stands for Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane Areas – the areas being  Batangas, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Iloilo, Cebu, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

A main goal of ABK3 LEAP is to lessen the occurrence of child labor. They do it through pushing youth employment services and education in the areas – a main reason why Jao siblings  picked the project.

And now, here’s where definitions blur for me, and in a good way. Most of the social enterprises I’ve encountered and met work with local communities, giving them livelihood and empowering them with skills. In TCPP’s case, they don’t work with the people they help and with very good reason 🙂 But even so, as Jezze says, the “mission… at the centre of business,” is to give kids a “fighting chance to work on their dreams” – and that’s no small thing.

Picture from the World Vision website

Like entrepreneurs do, they’re already thinking big.

Jezze and Riz want to at some point help public schools and orphanages. In the future, they’re even looking at enriching the lives of the children’s parents, to stop the cycle of poverty putting children to work.

But first, they’re looking at their product. Pity-buyers are not TCPP’s target market so they’re working hard to produce fashion that’s functional, durable, and of course, pretty 🙂

A picture of Jezze at the Good Morning Club show

Getting to know more about these two was refreshing because they’d only been at it since September 2013. Usually, the people I talk to have been working at their startups for a while already and have been part of the startup community for even longer. Most will say they had to learn everything. These two are still learning everything 🙂 They’ve called the process so far challenging, frustrating, fulfilling.

Carrier pigeons are birds that were used to send letters to and fro, way back in the day. That’s what  The Carrier Pigeon Project (TCPP) hopes to be and I’m definitely geting the message 🙂

If you’re working any kind of program or center for kids, contact them. There’s a very bright future ahead, after hard work.

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