Mai and her husband are members of the Mlabri, a small hill tribe in rural northern Thailand. Life among the Mlabri has changed rapidly over the past two decades and the world that 19-year-old Mai was born into is very different from the one her mother experienced.
Up until the mid-20th century, the Mlabri were a self-sustaining hunter & gatherer society who had almost zero contact with the outside world. Teak logging, guerrilla warfare and industrial development robbed them of their forest home and led the Mlabri through a sustained period of deprivation—they were forced into indentured servitude for neighboring tribes and many Mlabri died of malnourishment, malaria and contact with poisonous pesticides used in slash & burn farming. With fewer than 300 Mlabri left in the world, their future was uncertain.
Over the past decade, hammock weaving has helped engineer a turnaround for the Mlabri in the Ban Boonyuen Village, where Mai and her husand live. For a hard worker like Mai, there are new opportunities that were unheard of for the previous generation. As a hammock weaver, she could earn as much as a college-educated teacher in her province. Her husband dreams of planting their own rice crops near the village. Together, they are trying to find ways to improve their lives without taking on debt from unethical middlemen who will trap them in an endless repayment cycle. This loan will help ensure that Mai can earn a stable income from hammock weaving and help them thrive in the modern world as they begin their life together.
About Yellow Leaf Hammocks
Yellow Leaf Hammocks is a for-profit social enterprise that trains and supports artisan weavers as they create high-margin luxury hammocks. By laying the foundation for a sustainable micro-economy, the organization is helping alleviate poverty, social injustice and environmental degradation for rural hill tribes in northern Thailand. The enterprise is a wholesale hammock seller that distributes its products through retail boutiques and e-commerce websites.
Kiva lenders’ funds are used to help artisans buy the raw materials to make hammocks. Additionally, the funds are used to expand the distribution network to increase hammock sales globally.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks joined Kiva through our Experimental Partnership Program, and has therefore received a lighter level of due diligence. Accordingly, loans associated with this partner carry a higher level of risk than typical Kiva loans.