Researchers from the Northampton Institute of Urban Affairs and the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, University of Northampton, have been engaging with Aaron Jones – Founder and CEO of multi-award winning Fikay Fashion. Aaron and his team kindly agreed to be one of the case study social enterprises in research being undertaken on New Generation Social Enterprises as part of a European Union funded project entitled, Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies project (EFESEIIS).
Aaron set up Fikay Fashion in 2012 when he was at University, in order to bring about positive change. His idea developed from a period travelling in Cambodia where he was overwhelmed by both the extent of the poverty and the kindness of the people. On one occasion he saw one of his own students, (who he had teaching, whilst working as a volunteer), collecting plastic bottles using cement bags and out of that he realised he could develop a social business using, non-biodegradable, durable cement and fish feed bags to work with local suppliers to turn them into fashionable bags and wallets for customers in the UK and elsewhere. For every Fikay product sold, money is donated to a local Cambodian school as well as providing income for local people, as Aaron says “parents earning children learning”.
Throughout his time at University Aaron developed his idea into a fully-fledged social enterprise and was joined in 2014 by Karlo Baker, his co-founder and head of sales and marketing. The rest of the small team includes a video editor and an intern. The company is now supported by a distinguished board and a group of expert advisors. The company has continued to develop and grow adding new products which can be found in many retail outlets as well as on line. From the germ of an idea the team at Fikay are developing a sustainable social enterprise and are in the process of launching SEE fashion which will be a designer community led platform giving a place for new fashion designers in the U.K. to showcase their talents and in turn providing more work for people producing the goods in developing countries.