Sharrab explained that she and her partners first began to sell these handmade products through a typical business-to-consumer model, but quickly started to “forge partnerships with companies and explored the corporate gifting realm.”
Often companies are looking for “gifts with purpose, or an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) type of impact that would give back, such as gender equality, employment generation, training and educational opportunities,” Sharrab notes. This is exactly what companies get when they work with SITTI, either by way of corporate gifting opportunities or through different types of partnerships. “Not only are these companies making a procurement decision, but they're also able to make an impact through that decision,” explains Sharrab.
In this scenario, companies are already spending money, but as Sharrab elaborated, they are “able to double down on the impact of their purchase as it enables employment generation through trainings, skill development in these very marginalized and often forgotten communities, and more.”
Sharrab stresses that almost everything they sell is handmade by refugees in Jordan. “We also partner with other community-based organizations in the surrounding region. For instance, we work with local farmers in Afghanistan to source our saffron, but the final products are ultimately produced by talented refugee artisans.” Bringing these products to market is about creating a “circular economy back to these displaced communities.”
The company’s efforts are rooted in assisting refugees and displaced persons in creating self-reliance by enabling “the social and economic ability of an individual, a household or a community to meet its essential needs in a sustainable manner,” according to the SITTI 2020 Impact Report Opens in a new window..
Sharrab explains that fostering this autonomous ecosystem is a crucial focus for SITTI as they want to help liberate the individuals in these communities. She highlights that by helping the artisans bring their products to market, they are able to “move away from a charity model and move towards a social enterprise model.” In this respect, SITTI aims to encourage and enable refugees to use the skill sets they possess so that “they can feel empowered through employment, as opposed to them living with the stigmatized narrative about refugees being poor and only receiving aid,” explains Sharrab. As such, SITTI is working to break down these destructive and limiting stereotypes about refugees by showing their customers that “they’re capable of so much more. They just haven’t been given the resources to do more until now.”
More than that though, Sharrab highlighted that these efforts allow refugees in these displaced communities to “demonstrate to their children that you can have a skill set, you can contribute and, provide for your family, as a result.”
Sharrab explained that while she and her co-founders “didn’t intend to start a soap company. This is more than just women making soap. Instead, launching SITTI felt like they were answering their calling. It almost felt like this sense of communal responsibility to create something with these women in Jordan.”