With the money we raise from selling our handmade products, we develop our own small-scale, grassroots, and community-based conservation projects. We work with local stakeholders in Madagascar to increase local and indigenous environmental sovereignty and develop sustainable income sources in rural areas.
Partnership with KOJIMA
When we travelled to Madagascar last August, we set up a collaboration with a women's artist cooperative in Fandriana called KOJIMA. Artists here use regenerative raw materials from like raffia and cassava to create unique and handmade pieces, much like what our VIP's volunteer artists do! KOJIMA artists hope to someday use their art to provide sufficient income for them and their families. They create the entire pieces, from harvest to dying and weaving the materials! We buy the pieces from their respective artists at whatever price they set, no questions asked, and bring it back to you to share the beauty of sustainable art and fashion. Our KOJIMA collection hasn't been released yet, but be on the lookout soon!
As the first VIP's Fund conservation project, we worked with Patrick Randriamamonjy in Ranomafana, Madagascar to support Varibolo Resto, a restaurant and ecotourism company that provides sustainable jobs to community members right outside the famous Ranomafana National Park. Many animals, including lemurs, cannot be found naturally anywhere in the world outside the island of Madagascar. However, poverty runs rampant in here, so Varibolo provides the opportunity for people to make money without participating in environmentally destructive industries like logging, slash-and-burn-agriculture, and wood charcoal production upon which many Malagasy households rely. The Resto takes people on kayak tours of the Park to educate about the unique biodiversity and importance of conservation in Madagascar, as well as supporting the restoration of Ranomafana's elementary school! Conservation education in this school will be a huge step, especially for those who share living spaces with endangered species like lemurs. Varibolo Resto was forced to shut down during the pandemic, but with support from VIP's Fund, Patrick reopened in June 2023!
Student-Led Ecological Research Program
Ranomafana High School, Madagascar
We are now bringing sophisticated research opportunities to high school students in Ranomafana, the same community that Varibolo Resto serves. We will collaborate with students at the high school to develop a research question and design a field study that will contribute to the formal body of scientific literature surrounding conservation in Madagascar. Students will supplement their own community's ecological knowledge with lessons in natural selection, the Scientific Method, data collection, and other topics. they will then design a study and conduct it in Ranomafana National Park, and write a scientific report on their findings that we will publish here!
UPDATE: students have currently completed 2 out of their 6 lessons!
We hope that this project will make a career in conservation both more desirable and more accessible for Ranomafana's young scientific minds, so please consider donating or purchasing one of our pieces to support this initiative!