Sustainable Microenterprise

environmental progress news

The Warm Heart Sustainable Microenterprise Program provides economic opportunities for those living in poverty. We create jobs for local women’s artisan co-ops and train men and women who currently have no marketable skills. Our goal? Empower the poor to help themselves.

Why Microenterprise?

All over the world millions of people languish without jobs. Their old lives have been destroyed and they lack the education or skills to start new ones in the new, modern world.

Microenterprise is a way for them to build new lives by using what they do know creatively or to acquire new skills that allow them to create jobs for themselves in local market niches.

What is Microenterprise?

Microenterprise is a small business run by entrepreneurs who are working towards creating a livelihood. There are normally less than 5 people working together, more often single individuals. They usually produce a small number of products and have limited access to financial security and support.

How we do it

Warm Heart works with members of the community who do not have access to a sustainable income. We provide guidance and training to find a product that they are able to make to sell. We also help with marketing their products to help boost their sales.

Besides identifying natural talent, such as weaving and jewelry making with our women’s co-ops, we encourage use of recyclable materials to create new products, such as our Transforming Styrofoam project. Our goal is to offer a sustainable income solution for both men and women.

Consumer Goods

Traditional Arts, Modern Markets

Working with Women’s Co-ops we create jobs for local women by tapping their traditional skills as spinners, weavers and seamstresses.

We provide modern designs to help them compete in global markets at first world prices.

  • Identify promising products
  • Suggest design, production and packaging improvements
  • Create products that stand out among similar products in Chiang Mai markets, online and overseas

The result is a steady increase in sales and profits, and a sustainable income stream for women. (Read More)

Fashion Accessories by Warm Heart

The products from the women’s co-ops are sold on our online store Fashion Accessories by Warm Heart. This is our way to make the local-global connection; it is how local women can make a fair market price for their products. We also sell their products in local shops around Chiang Mai. We have several retail marketers who place orders for specific products worldwide.

microenterprise macrame maker

Visiting Designer Program

Success of our microenterprise project comes from professional fashion designers from around the world who donate their time and talent to create new designs for our co-op members. They visit us, design primarily with local materials, and work with our local artisan women. US $500 can create a new fashion line! (Learn more)

Environmental Microenterprise

Training Programs for Men and Women

Gender discrimination cuts both ways. In the developed world, we focus on the exclusion of women. Warm Heart’s early Microenterprise Project did, too. Simple observation, however, reveals a more complicated story. Here as in much of the developing world gender roles have made teenage boys and men the real losers and excluded them from a future. Warm Heart is working towards creating more microenterprise solutions aimed at men. Read more


Finding innovative ways to recycle waste plastic into beautiful and useful items, and creating training materials to share the processes and products with others around the world. Looking for ideas? Visit our Repurposing Plastics page.

Precious Plastics

Free training on how to build your own plastic recycling machines to turn discarded plastic into new products.

Visit Precious Plastics for more information and to download plans.

Transforming Styrofoam

Warm Heart has developed a simple, replicable system to convert styrofoam into a useful product, providing an opportunity for both men and women to build a sustainable business while helping clean up our environment. Learn how…

Styrofoam Building Bricks

Cooling the climate with biochar

Poor farmers burn billions of tons of crop waste annually producing hundreds of millions of tons of climate warming greenhouse gases (GHGs) and clouds of smoke. European and American towns and householders burn or compost hundreds of millions of tons of leaves, also producing huge quantities of climate warming GHGs. Warm Heart’s simple technology permits anyone to convert this biomass to biochar – no GHGs, no smoke. And the biochar is a powerful soil amendment and decontaminant. While Warm Heart teaches small farmers in Asia to make biochar, you can teach your neighbors and actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere!

Visit Tips On Getting Started for more information

Visit Our Store

Agricultural Microenterprise Grants

Warm Heart Worldwide

Non-Profit Organization

Warm Heart is a grassroots non-profit development organization and we are therefore committed to the free exchange of knowledge.

Our designs, videos, training materials, brochures and other publications are all available free under Creative Commons licensing rules.

We ask simply that you recognize our work when you use our materials, just as we provide full attribution to the authors of the works we share on our site.

You can follow us on Facebook, see all of our videos on YouTube.

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Success Story

Yai and her sister Yeck are Buddhist Nuns who have worked with Warm Heart for 5 years making handwoven scarves in silk, cotton and rayon.

They both live at the Padaeng temple two steps away from the weaving workshop; the community provides them with food.

Yai loves working with Warm Heart because she doesn’t have to worry about design or selling and can put all her energy into the weaving. ​

Yeck enjoys being able to work in the same place where she is living and likes leading a simple weaver’s life.

Microenterprise Basic Resources

We have assembled a great starting place of resources that will save you hours of frustration Googling for the few tidbits that answer your needs. Do you have a favorite resource not listed? Send us your links and ideas to
Microenterprise Resources so we can share them here.




US – Office of Refugee Resettlement



Microenterprise Marketing

Setting up a website is easy, getting traffic is the hard part!

Here are a few resources where you can market your own microenterprise products on established websites that already have traffic:



Examples of successful microenterprise organizations:


Fashion Accessories by Warm Heart

Article: Myanmar Trash to Treasures

Environmental Impacts

Understanding Plastics

We live and die by plastic. It transformed our lives for the better – and like the sorcerer’s apprentice, it multiplied into the bane of our existence.

Plastics pollute our waters, there are 7 different types of plastic, each having their own way of being recycled and reused.

Styrofoam and plastic bags are the least recyclable, which is exactly why Warm Heart chose to target them as candidates to become new, useful and profitable microenterprise products.

Addressing Plastics Pollution

Ocean plastics

Parley for the Oceans

Parley is a place where creators, thinkers, and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans, and collaborate on projects that end their destruction.


Styrofoam has always had a bad reputation for being one of the worst single use products to clutter our environment. Add the fact that it takes over 500 years to decompose and you have a serious problem. Warm Heart has developed a way to turn styrofoam into a usable product.

There are many others working on styrofoam waste solutions as well. One who stands out is young Ashton Cofer. He and his friends tackled the problem and came up with a brilliant solution.