From Pennies for Wool to $1 Million for Snow Leopards
Pioneering handicraft-for-conservation program Snow Leopard Enterprises is close to reaching the milestone of $1 million in total sales in 10 years- and you can help get us there by shopping now!
Many of you are familiar with Snow Leopard Enterprises (SLE), our flagship community-based conservation program that helps snow leopards as well as the people who share the big cat’s habitat.
It’s remarkably simple: We buy beautiful wool handicrafts from herder communities and market them internationally. In return, herders sign contracts designed to protect the snow leopard and other wildlife.
Many herders in rural areas of Mongolia, where SLE began in 1999, have to sell their raw sheep, goat, and camel wool for pennies per pound.
But when they join SLE herders are able to earn hundreds of dollars each year from producing handicrafts. That’s a significant sum in areas where people typically live on less than a dollar a day!
This income is a tremendous incentive for herders to protect snow leopards.
Thanks to all of you who have been buying these handicrafts we are very close to reaching $1 million US in sales for this unique program.
You can help us reach the $1 million mark in the next few weeks by purchasing our beautiful handmade products in our online shop
A financially self-sustaining program
“One of the amazing things about SLE is that the more products are sold the more cats are protected,” says Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust.
Not only does the program have a direct linkage to conservation, but it’s also highly cost-effective”, Brad adds. “The beauty of the program is that in addition to helping herders and snow leopards, it also helps cover the costs to ship, market, and distribute the products.”
When the first herders—about 50 women from Uvs and Gobi-Altay provinces in Mongolia —joined SLE, they quickly found that they could rely on regular income from their handicrafts, and were more able to tolerate livestock losses from snow leopards and wolves.
From this handful of participants in Mongolia, SLE has grown to 250 active members in three countries, now including Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. (We are also developing a pilot SLE program to begin soon in northern India.)
Over the past 10 years, the program has also grown in effectiveness. At first, sizing was inconsistent and some of our initial products were less popular with shoppers in the U.S. Over time though—and with the help of local handicraft trainers and international designers and marketers—we have been able to refine and expand our products, and sales have really grown – close to $1 million!
Tremendous impact on the cats
A million in sales is a nice achievement, but it only really matters if it helps snow leopards. We can confidently say that it does!
In Mongolia, where SLE has the largest reach with 27 participating communities covering over 25,000 square kilometers, researchers estimate that a quarter of the country’s snow leopard habitat could now be protected through SLE.
YOU can help us reach the Million!
A big thank you to all for your past support of SLE! Please help us hit the $1 million mark by taking a look at our shop to see the exciting products we have available – and be on the lookout for great deals on Facebook and in our emails (sign up here if you haven’t already!)
With your continued support, we can continue to grow this successful program to help more herders and protect more cats.