Project #4229

Generate Income & Hope From Non-Recyclable Garbage

by XSProject

Retno Hapsari, the General Manager of XSProject had the
opportunity to attend World Fair Trade (WFTO) Asia Conference that was held in
Goa, India from 8th to 14th October 2012 along with one
other Fair Trade member from Indonesia and the Secretariat General of Fair
Trade Indonesia. Fair Trade members, donors, and buyers from 22 countries
attended the Conference, which was titled ‘Launching the Sustainability Chain
and Building Consumer Confidence in Fair Trade’.  The event took place in a beautiful resort
beach hotel of Bogmallo Beach Resort, Goa. .

Since this was the first time that XSProject had the opportunity
to participate in a conference of this type, Retno was quite excited.  She was able to share her experiences and
learn about accomplishments and best practices from other Fair Trade members..
The most pressing challenge that many faced has been the global recession,
because this has been making it harder for 
members to generate sustainable income for their producers and
artisans.  Other issues discussed during
the conference included branding, product visibility, and the need for living
wages among the producers.

As a result of the conference, the President and Board of the
World Fair Trade Organization will focus more intently on creating a standard
brand, increasing the visibility of Fair Trade members, simplifying the  membership process, and expanding
distribution by creating an outlet for WFTO members.

XSProject was honored to be at this conference, and looks forward to future opportunities to benefit from its WFTO membership. 




Cleaning newly arrived recycled trash
Cleaning newly arrived recycled trash

Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Indonesia:

On July 20, I was able to visit XS Project, an organization turning trash into quality products, creating jobs, and providing educational scholarships.

I arrived to the office and met staff doing everything from sorting and cleaning loads of trash, unused car seat covers, and old marketing banners, to working on product development, and sewing the products. I sat down with one of the sewers, and he explained he had been with XS since 2005. What brought him here? He said a friend was working at XS. He used to make seat covers for airplanes, but now he can make products from recycled products. At the time, the team was putting together very cool laptop cases created from a combination of seat covers and discarded marketing banners.

I then met the head of product design and the head of finance.  The head of finance explained, XS is “not just cleaning the environment, but it is creating jobs for those who need it. XS is also providing education scholarships – it’s like 3-in-1.” The head of product design explained that he was first introduced to XS in college and thought it would be a great challenge to create products out of recycled material. 

After meeting the staff and watching the process of turning recycled material into new goods, Retno and I went to visit the community where it all starts – the trash pickers. When we arrived the kids were so excited and everyone came out to say hi and play. Retno brought a box of pencils and crayons gathered from other schools, and the children all dove in to grab their handfuls. We stopped to speak with every family and to hear their current needs and issues. The families live on this land and work for a “lampak” which is the boss of that trash picker community.

I asked the kids what they studied and they all shouted out, "math, Bahasa (Indonesian), Ingrish (English), and Quran reading!" I then asked a few what they wanted to be when they grow up – and 2 young girls said a chef and teacher. Another young girl said a doctor. XS provides funding for the children’s schooling directly to the school and follows up with the school and teachers to see how their progress is. Retno encouraged the moms to tell their kids to go to class. In this community, the parents’ generation mostly did not attend school so this is a new opportunity for their children. 

Trashpickers' community
Speaking with kids & moms
Speaking with kids & moms


Singapore American School Custom Laptop Sleeve
Singapore American School Custom Laptop Sleeve

XSProject has always prided itself on its connection to local schools.  First and foremost, are the relationships that we use to ensure that the trashpicker children we support are getting an education.  But we also have links to international schools in Indonesia and Singapore that bring even more value to the poor communities with which we work. 

This year, our relationship with the Jakarta International School (JIS) moved to a new level.  The school ordered almost 1,500 laptop sleeves, for their “One Child, One Computer” program.  The idea was so great that the Singapore American School decided to order iPad sleeves and specially designed laptop sleeves for their school.

When the students at these schools receive their XS products, they learn about the trash-picker communities that supply some of the waste material.  Often they want to help.  One way the international students have provided assistance is through their Boy Scout troop.  In the past, a small team of scouts paid for the materials and built new carts for five trash pickers.  This year, the Boy Scouts built a much needed bathroom and toilet for the community. 

The engagement with schools builds a virtuous circle.  XS benefits through increased sales.  The trash picker communities benefit from both XS’ support as well as that from the international students.  And the international students learn more about their community and the benefits of giving. 

We did it!!  Just before the close of 2011, XSProject received notice that the organization had been admitted to the WFTO Asia.  WFTO Asia is a regional chapter of the World Fair Trade Organization, the global leader in certifying local producers as adherents to Fair Trade standards.  The process of being accepted as a member is rigorous.  XS spent months filling out paperwork to demonstrate the commitment of our business to our employees, customers, and the local community.  Once our documents received initial approval, the WFTO Asia sent a staff member to our offices to conduct a site vist.  The results of that process went back to the WFTO Asia board for review.  From the time we started the process in March 2011 until we received notice of acceptance spanned almost 9 months! 

Getting WFTO certification is a huge achievement for XS.  Although we have always known that we provided an above average wage, took great care with everyone associated with our business, and showed a strong commitment to our local community, it was great to get confirmation from as recognized a body as the WFTO. 


Monk Bag
Monk Bag

A little over two years ago, when I started working with XSProject, the organization was close to going out of business.  The non-profit was being run primarily by volunteers, product sales were not covering expenses, and there were limited prospects for new revenue.  The situation was dire. 

Thanks to the contributions of GlobalGiving philanthropists and the dedication of the team on the ground in Indonesia, we have been able to turn the situation around.  I am happy to say that today XSProject is run by a team of full-time, paid staff that are all Indonesians.  Many of the staff come from the local communities.  Our sales have increased substantially, which means more work for our sewers - most of whom rely on this income stream for the livelihoods of themselves and their families.  The increased revenue means that XSProject is even closer to achieving its goal of full financial sustainability - even though we are not there yet.  In addition, we streamlined the social programs that XSProject was involved in to focus exclusively on the education of trash picker children.  This created overall efficiencies at the organization that resulted in a broader base of innovative products, and the removal of more waste from landfill.  XSProject is in a very different position today, than it was 2 years ago.

As of January 1, 2012, another transition will occur.  I will be stepping aside as the Executive Director, and Retno Hapsari, the Operations Manager in Indonesia, will move into a General Manager role.  Going forward, she will be driving not only the day-to-day operations for XSProject, but the overall business.  This is a great achievement for XSProject because never before has the organization been managed and run exclusively by the local team.  Retno and I have been working closely together over the past year to prepare her for this role.  She is a talented, dedicated professional and I have confidence that she will excel in her new position.  I will continue to be available to her whenever she needs help or support, although I am sure that will diminish over time.   

In mid-to-late January, we will also be releasing our Winter 2012 catalogues, which will introduce some new products along with our classics.  Be sure to check it out in the Products section of our website (  A few pictures are attached to whet your appetite. 

We appreciate and thank you for your continued support.  I look forward to great things for XSProject. 

Men's Wallet
Phone Sleeve
Phone Sleeve

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Organization Information


Location: Cilandak Barat, Jakarta - Indonesia
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Karen McDaniels
Denton, Texas United States
$56,817 raised of $95,000 goal
613 donations
$38,183 to go
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