Ghana 2020: Developments, Reinvestments, and our Team
By: Lorena Miranda || Founder || @lorenamirandabendeck
As we started 2020, our business was ripe for a growth spurt. With this in mind, I headed to Ghana in late February (before the COVID19 pandemic blew up around the world, more on that later) to prepare our team to scale. This time, the situation was much different than during my first visit. Now, I was no longer overwhelmed by what they lacked, instead I was excited for the changes that were about to take effect that they so urgently and worked for.
As a small business, every penny matters. We need to be mindful of our expenses at all times. The unique thing about our business model is that we have positioned ourselves as a values based brand, and to maintain the integrity of this, we must spend money in a way that doesn't burden most small businesses: we must reinvest in the communities we source from.
Investing when cash flow is vital is a tall order, but I believe we have successfully managed to do it in a way that is positively impacts our branding and marketing strategy, therefore an important component to the overall health of our business.
What's New (Update March 2020)
1. We officially launched the Victoria Project Soap Program and created new jobs in the area
- Moving forward, our weaving center will have soap readily available for use while in the center and at the end of each month, each weaver will receive 2 large bars of soap which should be sufficient for a family of 4.
- The weavers are now producing products that meet our strict specifications and requirements consistently. This is a huge deal since part of our issue was that we had so many weavers weaving which caused orders to arrived in different colors and sizes. Now we only have 25 weavers that are slowly becoming Victoria Basket masters. As they get better and as our orders increase, they will then teach others how to weave our way and help create more jobs.
- We now have a Quality Control Manager and a new SEO Digital Marketing Manager. Daniel and Abraham are part of our executive team. Daniel is in charge of ensuring that our baskets are made correctly, sized properly, and woven to standard.
Prior to this, nether had secure employment. Today, they are officially employees of Sonder and Holliday in Ghana.
2. Plans to revamp the center are finally in place
For those of you who have followed our process via our Facebook and Instagram pages, you have probably seen how bad the conditions in which our weavers work are. The floor is completely dilapidated, which considering that there is a real lack of soap to wash clothes, hands, and body, is a serious hygienic problem. There is also poor ventilation and the heat is almost unbearable. It is essentially a sweatbox.
There was no electricity, internet, or any basic business tools like a computer or a printer, and not running water or plumbing.
Until now. A few things have already started moving.
- Computers and IPhone have been provided to key members of the team which will be used to communicate information as well as provide them with access to the world outside their village.
- Internet is now accessible through a portable hotspot which we provided for the IPhones and the laptop. We intend on providing more in the future as we grow.
- Plans and a budget to rebuild the floor and reinforce the walls and ceilings are finally in motion. Once we have estimates and the proper people who will be working on the project we will update all of you! This is a major part of our reinvestment plans.
3. The weavers have a renewed sense of pride about their work
This is a big deal for us. Part of our mission as a brand is the empower those we work with which is why we deliberately choose to work with some of the world's most vulnerable communities. This is a crucial part of our agenda and branding strategies as a business and brand.
The weavers were used to creating straw products and selling them to a local market buyer for a few dollars. The buyer at the market would then sell it for 3-4 times the price they purchased it from the weaver. This created a huge cycle of unfair pay and labor which we have slowly started to break with our methods.
Sonder and Holliday pays the weavers way above what similar items would sell for at the market.