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In 1999, Kerry and Annie Hilton left New Zealand with their four children and moved to Kolkata to work and live amongst the poor. They soon realized that the apartment that they had just moved into was in the middle of the largest red light district in the area. To make a difference that would bring real freedom for these women, the Hiltons knew that these women needed a business alternative. Women could be trained with new skills and get empowered. After experimenting with different products and testing the market, they decided to make jute bags for the export market.
Freeset opened its doors in 2001 with 20 women. Priya Mishra, an Indian doctor working with the community, played a key role in building the trust between the Hiltons and the women. Dr. Mishra was also instrumental to the growth of the business.
Today, the business produces around 1,000 bags a day. Consistent quality is important for Freeset, and it is a competitive, self sustaining business that's breaking the cycle of poverty and exploitation.
Freeset provides freedom for women in the sex trade by offering them a dignified job and assisting them in their journey towards healing and wholeness.