The grant also gives us money to expand our product line. Here, you see Tina trying on a sample apron my sister brought us from El Salvador. The Co-op members loved it so much that Miriama ended up wearing home (or trying to) the sample they made, because my sister wouldn't part hers. It's fitted, feminine and functional--and we're now making it with West African lapa. Note the handy little side pockets. We won't need to embroider ours, but the pockets will stay.
Here are Miriama, Bendu and Josephine (left to right). Bendu single-handedly ran our booth at the U.S. Embassy Craft Fair and earned more than $600 for the Co-op in one day. Miriama, to the left in pink, will be the next team leader as we expand to 20 members in the coming months.
Matilda is our newest Team Leader. Here, she's tallying and handing over bags that her team members have sewn.
Over the next year, I'll be working with the Co-op to achieve the following:
- Try to scale-up Co-op membership to 30 women.
- Train team leaders in consistent quality control and management.
- Market and distribute the monthly output of the Co-op, which now is over 100 products, both locally in Liberia and internationally.
- Expand their product line to aprons, yoga mat bags and more.
- Brand the Co-op as a women's microenterprise program and show buyers the positive effect product revenues have on members' lives.
- Build the Team Leaders' capacity to effectively run and manage the Co-op on their own.
- Build Co-op members' skills in business management and financial literacy.
- Develop a Monrovia-based network of suppliers that the Co-op can directly liaise with.