For some ten years now I contributed to this nonprofit and watched its efforts and results. I have been overwhelmingly impressed with its disciplined focus on building a locally-driven industry supply chain to the market with product innovation to create value-added that offers a sustainable competitively-advantageous basis for the local economy. CPALI/SEPALI Madagaskar has been run creatively and with great determination, and offers high value-added leverage for contribution dollars to build good lives for people in its region. I recommend it without condition.
CPALI has responded to the COVID crisis, first by working to protect the health of the artisans in Maroantsetra (masks, uniforms, handwashing stations) and second by moving all of the sales of the artisanal products online. Both have required new levels of effort and new learning by the Madagascar and in the US teams. Both activities have added to the usual difficulties of managing an international enterprise that spans 11 time zones, flaky internet connections, and an increasing challenging logisitic chain: the curtailment of tourism to Madagascar has disrupted the transcontinental shipment of cargo. Fortunately, SEPALI, the Malagasy partner of CPALI has strong connections in the community and a long history with its enterprise partners.
While donations to CPALI are still needed, buying products from Tanana Silk (tananasilk.com) will directly benefit the team in Madagascar (all the profits are sent to them) and will give them invaluable information about which of their beautiful products appeal to the market so they can focus their attention on the more desirable items.
CPALI and SEPALIM are an effective team, bridging between Madagascar, where there are social, environmental, and economic needs and the markets in OECD countries, where there are buyers and donors. The partnership has succeeded across a decade that contained disruptions in politics, climatic, weather, fashion, and economics. The robust strategy is based on an evolution towards local governance. The assumption of responsibility by SEPALIM has accelerated during this past year, which bodes well for the sustainability of the enterprise. The conservation results have been disproportionate large compared to the resources invested.
Since learning about CPALI, I have been consistently impressed with their project, their commitment to their mission and the community they work with, and their true desire to support conservation and poverty alleviation in Madagascar. This is a nonprofit I will never hesitate to support, financially and otherwise!
CPALI does amazing work! I volunteered with them about 10 years ago, and keep on following their progress and fantastic results online. They go the extra mile to make the lives of villagers better, all while protecting the environment. Keep up the good work, CPALI!
I am an artist & graphic designer. Catherine (Cay) Craig is my neighbor here in Walla Walla, WA. The day I met her, she showed me some samples of the silk cocoon textiles made by the Malagasy people of CPALI. I was intrigued and captivated by her devotion to this NGO she founded. She is a tireless advocate for the people and the precious rain forest resources of Madagascar. This Spring, I worked with Cay to design a brochure showcasing the people and the beautiful products made by CPALI. Through this project I learned so much about an important region of the world that I will never see in person. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help further the important work of this nonprofit.
CPALI/SEPALI MADAGASCAR is an amazing nonprofit. It accomplishes multiple goals: protecting the environment of Madagascar, raising people out of poverty by providing meaningful work, and contributing to the art world with the introduction of a new, environmentally friendly creative product. It is certainly one of the greats.
Dedicated to conservation of natural environment and human resources in Madagascar, CPALI enthusiastically helps local agriculturists develop wild silk moth cocoon industries, helping both the economic development and the natural resource preservation simultaneously. Who would guess that wild silk moth cocoons would be so amazing?! A gift for the locals and a gift for artisans worldwide.
I love this charity. They help the people of Madagascar earn more, produce art, save the environment, on and on. They are one of my big donations every year.
I know the founder of this organization and can attest to her commitment to conservation and sustainability. With CPALI, she has developed a program that allows this community to sustain itself economically and conserve the environment through their farming practices.
I am also a customer and have purchased silk swatches for use in fine art textile pieces. The work is beautiful and unique. CPALI/SEPALI deserves much attention for how it has helped this community thrive as well as finding a way to improve the overall environment, health, and well-being of the area.
I have gone to Madagascar in person and so can attest to the great work done by CPALI. It’s AMAZING! The last time I was there, five or so years ago, we could already see groves of trees for the silk worms where previously there had been either empty ground or rice paddies. In this time of habitat destruction, it warms my heart to think of the little pieces of jungle that CPALI is saving.
I have watched CPALI and Sepali-Madagascar grow over the years and am always impressed by how much the people who run the program listen to and take into account the farmers’ and villagers’ input and concerns. I’m especially excited by how the women in the villages seem to be taking the lead on various projects. This is a great program making a big difference with little money. More money would help a lot!
I have been a design and marketing consultant, a trainer, and a business coach to CPALI and its project in Maroantsetra, Madagascar since 2015. The silk cocoon materials fascinated me and presented a challenge like no other. The location of the workshop is remote. It suffers from lack of infrastructure, more intense storms, and the challenging conditions of rural life in a country that has a host of problems that often seem insurmountable. Against all odds, SEPALI is The Little Engine That Could. They make beautiful products, deliver them on time, and are dedicated to learning new skills. The benefit that additional income brings the artisans helps them send their children to school, pay for healthcare and become better stewards of their environment. I have been so impressed with the serious effort of the artisans and their local leaders that I also volunteer my time to help them to become sustainable. Many international aid organizations seem to have given up on Madagascar, as it's just too difficult a place for success. Not CPALI! The mission is large, the budget small, and donations will be put to extremely good use.
CPALI is providing a way to support families and livelihoods in rainforest areas of Madagascar through production of silk from wild-grown caterpillars. The products are beautiful and demonstrate high levels of craftsmanship. This organization is directly improving many lives and helping to conserve forests at the same time. What could be better?
The magnitude of the deforestation and poverty in Madagascar is almost incomprehensible, but CPALI is addressing both of these issues, and even empowering women, all at the same time. They are doing everything you would wish a nonprofit would do: working with the local communities and letting them lead, making the program able to be self-sustaining by bringing in income, engaging the women of the community, adding programs as needs are identified, and even making a beautiful product to sell. We have been supporting CPALI for six years and plan to continue!
This is a very carefully considered project with an innovative spirit. They have achieved significant environmental and socioeconomic gains through strategic collaborations, local management, and dedication to a core philosophy. I would recommend looking to this organization as an exemplar in conservation. It has been a real pleasure to volunteer for the CPALI/SEPALI team for the past four years and to support the meaningful work they do.
Review from Guidestar
This is a wonderfully run organization driven by a lot of passion and loving heart! Really thoughtful program, and viable business approach. Love it
Review from Guidestar
Watching CPALI in the past 3 1/2 years, I have been so impressed with its development. The idea is simple: If local people get value from the forest, they won't cut it down, thus saving the myriad of rare species that live there. But it's not so simple to show the local people how valuable the forest is. CPALI's promotion of silk-worm farming and production of such amazing silk is growing fast. It is both alleviating poverty and conserving wildlife.
I was so impressed with an article I read in the Boston Globe that I sought out Cay and Bob to get more information about their work and also introduced them to a friend with years of experience in what major foundations would require before making major grants. In the last year or so, I've watched with pleasure as they've made huge strides toward taking off. Madagascar is an ecology on the edge; making protection of the forest economically rewarding for the people who live there is the secret to success. Fortunately, Cay's expertise in silk worms (a PhD in the field) helped her choose the right species to protect the forest and develop an ecologically sound industry.
My name is Nirina and I joined the SEPALI farmers group here in Ambinanitelo last year. It was really exciting for me to learn to sew the cocoons that are made by the silkworms, really exciting. The cocoon training allowed me to learn sewing techniques that I can apply to many different types of handicraft." - Nirina, CPALI farmer since 2011. Quote from video Interview, 2012.
"Before, the host tree had no use to us here. Then (SEPALI) came and showed us how to use our resources here in Madagascar and it brings me great happiness. I am in this group, not to plant trees, but to remind my group of the reason we need projects like this. It makes me happy to see Madagascar move forward and to see people from abroad taking an interest in our development. Things that had no use to us here before now have meaning. The work of SEPALI has blossomed in this community." - Trozona, Village Elder and honorary CPALI member since 2009. Video interview, 2012
"My name is Mr. Jaonary Jean. I live in Ambodivoangy. In 2009, I planted the trees you see here. There are about 260 trees here. In addition to using my land to rear silkworms, I also pasture my cows here and down below is my rice field. But of all my activities, rearing silkworms is my favorite because the silk worms can be very productive on these trees." -Jaonary Jean, CPALI farmer since 2009 in video interview, 2012.
Conservation through Poverty Alleviation Inc. (CPALI) is founded upon two basic principles: one, any conservation project in third world rural areas must address the poverty problems of the people living there, and two, the effort must be bottom up, not top down. In a remote area of Madagascar, where the traditional farming has been slash and burn, CPALI is working to get the farmers to take advantage of the country’s rich natural resources as a source of supplementary income. They have introduced raising silk worms and weaving silk textiles; in addition, they are exploring new sources of nutrition. The local farmers and women meet to organize and make decisions about where and how to concentrate their efforts. CPALI and a small staff have been providing supplies, training and support. The farming communities are adjacent to protected forest land. It has not been easy, entrepreneurship is not a part of their traditional culture, and progress has been slow, but there is a building momentum toward sustainability at this pilot site.
As a Board Member, I have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with Cay Craig and try to help make her vision a reality.
In 2011, I took the long boat trip to up river into the remote wilderness area of Madagascar to meet the CPALI farmers. I saw first hand the creative process of this project: The indigenous trees that had been planted to rear the moths and the ironing and assembling of moth cocoons into the end product. I saw a program with committed local leaders and strong community support. The Farmers had fully invested in the CPALI goals of protecting their rainforest environment and producing some beautiful and unique fabrics. They seemed genuinely proud of their success. I don’t know if CPALI will become a self-sufficient business venture, but it is an audacious, imaginative and dynamic. It is helping to safeguard the world’s most important and threatened ecosystem and it deserves significant and continued support. At the end of the day, if CPALI flourishes, everyone wins.
Madagascar has already suffered great environmental devastation. Destruction of forests, harmful farming practices, several unique species in danger of extinction . . . the list goes on. I donate to CPALI because it gives the delicate habitats of the island a shot in the arm, by encouraging Malagasys themselves not only to protect their environment but also to improve it. And in doing so, they benefit both financially and in terms of local pride.
After having lived in this region for 10 years, I can attest that this organization provides a novel opportunity for a win-win solution to the conservation and rural development issues that plague this area. With increased funding, there could be an increased capacity to pilot this work in several areas within the region. Community engagement and follow-up are key and they are working on their objectives with local community members so that they have a genuine stake in the work. Below, I was asked to mark how much of an impact this organization has-- I did not give a stellar rating because they haven't had ample time to finish their project. With increased funding and more work, their impact could be tremendous!
-Christopher Golden PhD, MPH
Harvard School of Public Health
This is an organization that truly touches my heart. I went out to Madagascar and have seen for myself the green spaces where trees are now growing, met the farmers who have joined together in this venture as a community, and felt the sense of pride that all share in what they are accomplishing. What CPALI is doing is nothing short of incredible.
CPALI is a magnificent partnership that works with agriculturalists in Madagascar to develop innovative projects, be compensated for their efforts, and preserve their unique environment at the same time. Its CEO, Cay Craig, is a visionary, biologist, and environmentalist who has spent a decade working tirelessly to create a remarkable enterprise with the most minimal resources. Her inspiring working relationship with her partners is built on mutual trust and respect. Dr. Craig's energy, commitment, and vision help make this project a model of sustainable development.
I echo the comments of Tsarabe. What makes CPALI different is the team's respect for the needs, desires, motivations, and knowledge of the farmers they work with. CPALI does not tell the farmers what to do, declare the project a success, and move on somewhere else. The CPALI team spent a long time interviewing farmers to find out whether they would be interested in the native silkworm-raising project, what they would need to get from the project in order to stick with it, and what stumbling blocks they saw. As the project has gone on, the team and the farmers have learned from each other and the team has responded to evolving farmer needs and input. More farmers and more villages are joining the project. The new projects involving pupae for protein and mushrooms are very promising, and it seems that various designers are increasingly interested in the project's textile. The goal is for the project to eventually be self-sustaining without CPALI support, and this would mean that farmers would have increased knowledge about how their local ecology works and can work for them, which in turn means that they will have little incentive to violate the protected area's borders. CPALI is now at the stage where it is possible to imagine this goal being achieved.
Dr. Cay Craig has amazing vision but also incredible realism. I am constantly amazed at how much CPALI has accomplished with so little money. Craig and the rest of the CPALI team have paid incredible attention to the needs of the farmers who have partnered in this conservation effort, taking careful account of the amount of effort farmers will need to invest and the other risks involved so that farmers can have a realistic view of what they are taking on. The farmers I met were very enthusiastic: they want to restore their forests, and the CPALI project offers them a realistic chance of doing so as well as a sustainable source of income. CPALI has also offered young Malagasy science graduates an opportunity to take on leadership roles, thereby investing in different levels of Madagascar's society. Product development and placement are finally reaching an exciting phase, with some leading designers taking a keen interest in the possibilities offered by this unique silk product.
On the basis of ~10 years of field work, CPALI and its Malagasy Partner, SEPALI, have recently broadened their mission in response to the needs of the community they serve. The core mission stays the same: use entrepreneurship to create an economically self sufficient enterprise that maintains and enhances Madagascar's fragile, unique biological heritage.
The increased breadth stems from the recognition that the original product, non-woven textiles made from the cocoons of wild silk moths, offers co-products that are immediately valuable to the farmers and their families. So, CPALI/SEPALI are building expertise in the served communities to benefit from the protein available in the excess pupae and the mushrooms that grow on the agricultural waste. The goal is the sort of integration that was key to the success of family farms that preceded industrial farming.
At least as important has been the transition from a US leadership to Madagascar leadership with US consultation and marketing. Thus, CPALI is the rare nonprofit that is trying to put itself out of business by devolving responsibility onto a successor organization that is well positioned, geographically and culturally to succeed.
Both organizations operate frugally, transparently and cooperatively.
Review from Guidestar
I am in awe of Cay Craig's commitment and what she has accomplished on such a tight budget. The overall concept is very well thought out and avoids many of the pitfalls that have bedevilled developing economy aid projects. She has much to teach others contemplating similar ventures.
I have been contributing to the CPALI cause for about three years now, because it combines two vitally important goals: ecosystem preservation and reduction of poverty. Moreover, the organization works directly with silk farmers, without bureaucracy or overhead, to teach them the best practices. CPALI provides frequent and substantive updates about their ongoing projects, so that donors and volunteers stay connected with the organization. I work for a nonprofit fair trade organization, and am convinced that the only way to alleviate global poverty is, not through aid, but rather via organization such as CPALI which restore dignity and provide a means for people to earn a fair working wage.
I have the highest respect for the people at CPALI and their accomplishments. As a three-month volunteer, I witnessed a tireless work ethic, genuine desire to improve the lives of people around them and courage. I was in Madagascar at the early stages of CPALI's efforts. The challenges CPALI faced in establishing a novel wild cottage silk industry in such a remote place were daunting. Nothing was known about wild silk moths native to the area, rearing techniques needed to be developed, local people seemed to be resistant to change and knew nothing of silk production and the area in which they worked was remote even for the Malagasy staff. Supplies were difficult to locate, access to internet at the time was very limited and hurricanes were not uncommon. As a team, CPALI staff and director had the collective expertise, forethought and resilience necessary to tackle such challenges. Even though I was a temporary volunteer, CPALI staff respected my ideas and thoughts and made me feel like an integral part of the team. I saw them treat others similarly.
CPALI has recognized that the issues of environmental preservation and poverty alleviation are inextricably linked—to improve the habitat around subsistence farmers living near endangered habitats, the people need alternatives to traditional farming practices that could be accommodated by the pace of natural restoration, so long as population density was low. Starting from that premise, CPALI has invented, adapted and is now deploying technologies well suited to redress the ecological and economic conditions in Madagascar. It is a brave undertaking that has been pursued effectively by the whole CPALI organization, with important contributions from the beneficiaries who live near the Makira Protected area, the field team based in Maroantsetra, Madagascar, the design and commercialization team based in the US and scientific and commercial partners from around the world. Managing this far flung enterprise, in the face of the recent political unrest in Madagascar, has required diligent coordination, careful budgeting and skillful execution that is unusual in so young an organization.
Cay Craig couples exceptionally broad knowledge of ecological systems with a very deep and genuine commitment to help the world’s poor. Her interests are not just theoretical: She has been working over a decade to get CPALI started on a shoestring, and to bring outstanding partners on board. She has demonstrated the power of this approach, which is a model for creating shared value; but she really can’t go further without an infusion of funds. Projects like this are just what are needed to tighten the feedback loops, and to provide the economic incentives that are lacking for indigenous peoples to conserve natural resources. The beneficiaries will be biodiversity, the world’s poor, and hence all of humanity.
I met Cay Craig while living in Madagascar and became involved with her project on a volunteer consulting basis. I visited the training and research site as well as a number of the participating farm sites. Having worked with other NGOs in developing nations, I was quite impressed with ingenuity of CPALI's methods in combining ecological goals with the critical needs of the village and rural people. Moreover, I heartily applaud the participatory voice of the farmers in the project, the peer training and recruitment of new farmers and above all the commitment of getting the financial proceeds of the project back to the farmers.
CPALI has done an outstanding job of being responsive to what we requested our funds be used for, namely support for expansion of the field (farmer) program and the CPALI demonstration sites. CPALI has provided frequent update and complete financial disclosure. I have had the privilege of traveling to their sites to see the work they are doing on the ground in Madagascar, have talked to their farmers and have also positively evaluated their responses to the program. It has been a pleasure to work with them.
I have watched CPALI flourish in Madagascar since 2007, when it started as a tiny team of American and Malagasy entomologists trying to determine which native silk worms existed in the isolated northeastern region of Madagascar, what their food plants were, and other fundamentals of their ecology so as to better understand prospects for effective rearing, as an alternative source of local income generation to aleviate pressure on surrounding protected areas. I have been extremely impressed with CIPALI's evolution since I last visited the project in December 2009. CPALI has added skilled local staff, effectively strategized how rural farmers could rear silk worms as a sustainable source of income generation that also encourages native tree planting, and identified prospective international markets for their beautiful organic silk. CPALI is a rare example of “conservation enterprise” that gives local farmers a financial stake in respecting and maintining protected areas for the benefit of future generations. CPALI Director Dr. Cay Craig has incredible vision. This project deserves all the help and support we can offer it!
I have been very impressed with the growth of CPALI over the years. This is probably no surprise to people familiar with it's founder, Dr. Cay Craig, a brilliant scientist in her own right. She has worked tirelessly in difficult conditions to help local Malagasy residents obtain a new source of income and reduce their dependency on Madagascar's precious forests. Mamy Ratsimbazafy, CPALI’s program director, is a very motivated and bright individual who has an encyclopedic knowledge of silk moths. Impressively, he has organized the new Malagasy NGO 'SEPALI' or Sehatry ny Mpamokatra Landy Ifotony, to partner with CPALI in Madagascar. SEPALI will provide technical support to farmers and textile producers. I have visited the headquarters of CPALI in Maroantsetra, Madagascar several times over the last few years. It is an established and organized place with tremendous potential. I have also met with several farmers who were quite positive about their experiences with CPALI and the income generated from the wild silk which they have grown. CPALI is not new. It has been time tested. It is exciting to see it grow. It is one of the first empirical tests of the ability of small-scale enterprises to contribute both to environmental goals and to poverty alleviation. CPALI differs from many conservation programs in Madagascar that are dependent on subsidies and foreign aid. It is a rare example of a “conservation enterprise” that gives local farmers a financial stake in maintaining the protected areas.