Social enterprise offers dignity to abused women rebuilding their lives.
Survivor Rachael Bews started ALICAS to give other clothes worth wearing, presented with love.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship scheme is supporting 20 established entrepreneurs to help accelerate the growth of their business and develop their potential as leaders. Here is the final profile from this year’s cohort –ALICAS Ltd.
After fleeing an abusive partner, Rachael Bews sought refuge with Scottish Women’s Aid.
There, while getting much-needed and invaluable support, she discovered that women in crisis receive donations of clothing in bin bags to help rebuild their lives.
Bews set out to change this to ensure women like her could retain their dignity, identity and confidence.
She said: “The donations are often poor-quality, ill-fitting, wholly unsuitable and presented in a bin bag – the symbol of rubbish. My drive to change it inspired ALICAS – or Ali’s coats and shoes.”
ALICAS gifts bespoke clothing parcels to women in clothing crisis after fleeing domestic violence, supporting individuals to rebuild their lives, while giving retailers and members of the public an environmentally and socially responsible way of repurposing new garments.
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“Almost 2.5 years ago I first had the idea for ALICAS 💡 I pulled over the car on the way back from my local Scottish Women’s Aid and told myself that I had to make it happen – I had to even get one clothing parcel in the hands of a woman who needed it. . It was the story of @malala that gave me the courage to try and succeed despite the odds. Her sheer determination in the face of such adversity is a beacon for us all. What lights you up this #malaladay ?” ✨☀️ . 📸 @morganandrosephoto
In the last year, the company has achieved a number of significant milestones with support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship. The year-long programme provided funding, training, academic support and mentorship.
Through a pilot project, ALICAS has developed a proven model and honed a process that has generated interest from community groups and third sector organisations across Europe.
This has led to the creation of an open source toolkit, which will allow the project to be replicated around the world and achieve greater social impact. The toolkit is set to be published and licensed through Creative Commons from this summer.
In September 2018, ALICAS launched the #TAGSTO10K clothing drive which resulted in 56 capsule clothing parcels to women in clothing crisis and diverted more than 1,500 garments from waste.
Bews said: “As any social entrepreneur will tell you, our biggest challenge has been achieving financial sustainability.
“The funding we have received to date has allowed us to achieve huge social impact and build an effective and scalable model. The size of the social problem we are tackling is unimaginable – with an estimated 20,000 women in need of our service annually in Scotland from domestic abuse services alone.
“None of this would have been possible without the RSE Fellowship, and for this opportunity I will be truly, eternally grateful.”
The above article first published on insider.co.uk in Aug, 2019.