THE HISTORY OF OTHERS
In the mid-1990s, The Salvation Army was helping women in Bangladesh to learn a trade. The Salvation Army guaranteed that they would be paid for the products that they made, and tried to resell the products through different networks.
It quickly became evident that the market for traditional products was not big enough. The result was that many of these products ended up in warehouses. Funding for the project ran out, and the ability to pay the women disappeared. This experience, however, was an important step towards the development of Sally Ann – later to become Others.
The Salvation Army’s leaders in Bangladesh at the time would not give up on the idea of sustainable development through production and sales. The first Sally Ann shop opened on 17 September 1997, in two small rooms in Dhaka.
At the onset of the new millennium, over three hundred people – including former sex workers and other vulnerable women with little or no hope of finding decent employment – were involved in the production of carpets, tablecloths, purses, cards, baskets and furniture. More and more people began dropping by the Sally Ann shop in Dhaka. But the market and the purchasing power was still limited.
In 2002, Sally Ann established contact with The Salvation in Norway. The concept was adjusted to the Western market, with the necessary strengthening of quality and modifications in design. Within a year Sally Ann opened its first store in Norway. The store was opened by the Norwegian Minister of Development and applauded as an innovative contribution to the international development sector.
Sally Ann products have since been sold in several countries, with permanent sales channels currently existing in Denmark and the United States, in addition to Norway and some of the producer countries, which currently include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya and Moldova.
In 2013, new steps were taken to further develop the concept, with a strategic realignment of the sales strategy to focus on more cost effective and higher volume sales. Others products are now sold through partnerships with wholesalers and chains, corporate sales, web-sales, and sales channels within The Salvation Army. The concept changed its name and branding to Others – in order to have a name that would clearly communicate its underlying values.
The Others concept is coordinated by The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London, and permanent sales channels are in place in the USA, Canada, Denmark and Norway.
All producers are recruited through The Salvation Army’s local programs, including projects for economic development in villages or urban slum areas, work with women’s groups in both urban and rural setting, or specific projects related to rehabilitation of sex workers and victims of trafficking. Others is a commercial enterprise, but all proceeds go back into developing more jobs for producers.