SOCIAL SPIRIT: Accessories made from recycled plastic bags, washable sanitary pads and traditional Chilean textiles were in the spotlight as the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights handed out its third biennial awards for social entrepreneurs at a ceremony in Paris on Thursday night.

PPR chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault was on hand to distribute the prizes to Delphine Kohler, founder of Les Filles du Facteur in Burkina Faso; Sophia Klumpp and Paul Grinvalds, founders of Ugandan company AFRIpads; and a representative for Miriam Espinoza and Patricia Marihuen, of the Chilean cooperative Relmu Witral.

Each recipient will benefit from a cash injection of 15,000 euros, or $18,600 at current exchange, and mentoring from a senior manager at the French retail-to-luxury group. This year, they will include managers from luxury brand Bottega Veneta and Californian action sports label Volcom.

AFRIpads works to reduce school absenteeism among African girls by offering washable sanitary pads at affordable prices. Les Filles du Facteur employs 40 women, of which 10 are handicapped, in a workshop that produces crocheted accessories made from recycled plastic bags, which are sold through its Web site and stores including Merci in Paris. Relmu Witral provides jobs to 170 women from the Mapuche indigenous community in Chile, producing clothes and decorative items from their woven wool textiles.

“These projects prove that business, working alongside non-governmental organizations and government authorities, can support projects that contribute to the creation of a fairer world by generating jobs and generating value,” Pinault said.

Launched inJanuary 2009, the PPR Corporate Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights fights violence against women and promotes women’s empowerment. Members of its board of directors include Mexican actress Salma Hayek, who is Pinault’s wife, and designers Stella McCartney and Frida Giannini.

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