Refugee Turned Entrepreneur Uplifts Women Abroad

The Amber Chand Collection sells gifts handmade by craftswomen living in conflict zones. i

The Amber Chand Collection sells gifts handmade by craftswomen living in conflict zones throughout the world. The Amber Chand Collection hide caption

itoggle caption The Amber Chand Collection
The Amber Chand Collection sells gifts handmade by craftswomen living in conflict zones.

The Amber Chand Collection sells gifts handmade by craftswomen living in conflict zones throughout the world.

The Amber Chand Collection

While some retailers have struggled in the recession, Amber Chand, an online retailer of items made by women living in war-torn countries, is experiencing success.

"As the economy was going into a downturn during the holiday season, which is my primary season, I noticed actually that my company was increasing in terms of sales and revenues, and we grew by 22 percent," says Chand.

The entrepreneur from Williamstown, Mass., has a unique business model: She scans the headlines for conflicts around the world and responds.

"I swoop in and then identify a group of talented, skilled artisan women who live there [in conflict zones] and who are clearly going to have to rebuild their lives in the shadow of either war or genocide or civil strife," she explains.

The Amber Chand Collection partners with women in places ranging from Afghanistan to Colombia to Gaza. But her devotion toward these women flows from her own life story. Chand, a refugee of Uganda, was forced to flee under the terror of former dictator Idi Amin.

Ultimately, Chand says her work is not about charity.

"I believe that when people buy from the collection, they're investing," she explains. "They're exchanging money, and this money is actually impacting these women."

The retailer believes her collection is a win-win for everyone — by providing the buyer with a unique gift, along with a rich personal story, and it gives craftswomen in conflict zones an opportunity to earn a decent living.

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