Over the Top!
December 23, 2016
BENEFITING: WARM HEART WORLDWIDE INC
EVENT DATE: Dec 31, 2016
Eve is a twenty-five-year-old single mother. She has no formal education and no vocational training. During the five months of the rainy season, she can plant, weed and cut rice for $3 a day. The rest of the year, she trades babysitting for helping at her mom’s noodle shop. Three years ago, the Warm Heart Microenterprise Project gave Eve and five other women like her jobs.
Our jewelry designs capitalize on their skillful hands but don’t require a lot of training or equipment. The women like being able to work at home where they can socialize and watch their kids. And they love making more than what they could possibly make in the fields.
There are many more Eves in our community. If we don’t create jobs for them, no one will.
We need your help to grow our business so that we can give Eve more hours and put more Eves to work. We have never asked before, but today we would like to ask you to help us raise $2000 to design a new product line and go into production.
The Warm Heart Microenterprise Project has grown steadily from nothing eight years ago to a still small but thriving operation today that sells online as well as wholesales to customers in Thailand and at export. At every step, our growth has generated more jobs for a wider spectrum of poor women in our community – spinners/weavers/dyers, sewers and then jewelry makers.
We began with beautiful handwoven scarves made with handspun, wild silk yarn. These gorgeous scarves with their soft, natural colors from botanical dyes launched us and are still an important product. But not many women possess the skills to make such masterpieces. More importantly, this labor-intensive production is expensive and that limits the volumes that we can make and sell.
From the beginning, we’ve looked for ways to increase our product offerings. We enlarged our weaving to include less expensive commercially dyed rayon and cotton yarn. But weaving is tough during the hot and rainy seasons and sales for scarves, at least within our local network, drop dramatically during the long, hot season.
Enter Britta, a German designer, who introduced a line of elegant wrap bracelets that we could easily train lots of women to make. Britta’s bracelets have sold really, really well and have kept a lot of women working for a long time. The women can work pretty much any time of the year. But in order to keep growing sales, we know we have to keep introducing new products.
So what’s the problem?
Well, if you pay the women who work for you a decent wage, it’s hard to accumulate the cash to invest in product development. We have also lifted ourselves as high as we can by our own bootstraps. Our dedicated volunteer team is tapped out. Our manager comes every winter for two months and then supervises the rest of the year from Spain. Britta comes every year; this May she will come to produce her 4th collection. Both pay for their own travel and living expenses, donate their time and energy, and already help pay for production. Since 2014, we also employ a full-time Thai employee and her salary takes a big chunk of our profits. Currently, we are sustainable – able to keep going every year.
But we need more. This is where you come in. Until now, we’ve been limited to using relatively inexpensive materials to make our bracelets. Now Britta wants to introduce a more costly line using semi-precious stones. She also wants to start making necklaces and eventually earrings. That means bigger risk to us since we finance all production and won’t know if the designs will sell. The learning curve for new product development is costly.
We need $2000 to develop prototypes and do an initial production run allowing us to test the market. $2000 goes pretty fast when you’re dealing with more expensive materials so we’re not talking about large production runs.
What will your donation do?
- Pay for materials to develop new prototypes ($500)
- Pay for the first production run of the best styles ($1,500)
The world is full of talented craftspeople trying to monetize their skills. We at Microenterprise have enough of a track record to know how to stay in business. Help us keep our women in steady work and more importantly, help us increase the number of women in our groups.