Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mkwiro women's group 10 weeks on....

Our last blog on the Mkwiro Women’s Group was already a few months ago and I am pretty sure that a nice update is more than needed. As you know, we started last quarter with a work plan for the Women’s Group – ten objectives in ten weeks – in order for them to be ready to go to Diani and sell their products.

We first started working on the logo and the information sheet and, with the help of some people far more skilled then me regarding new technologies, the new logo and the information sheet were ready at the end of week 2, right on schedule!

The next objective was to have a professional looking catalogue that would include all the products. Indeed, we had different catalogues available but none of them were finished. Thanks to the help of two amazing volunteers, the Women’s Group has now a beautiful catalogue that shows their range of products and gives all the necessary information on how to place an order or contact the group if needed. After several workshops on how to approach businesses, how to take an order, how to have good and clear accounting, by week 8, the women were almost ready to go to Diani.

One of the groups members shows of a beautiful bag

For week 9, the objective was to select some products to have some samples for Diani. I had told the group before that we would need as many products as we could have (I didn’t think that so many women would show up and even more products!) After explaining to them that is was important to take good looking and well finished products from different women, they made their selection. Since the women brought all their mats, we used this meeting as well to define the size of each mat in order to have consistency in the sizes of the mats depending on their prices.

The last objective was to take care of the constitution. It is always very important for a group to have a strong constitution, one that can help the management of the group and the smooth running of its everyday life. The Women’s Group already had a constitution but they still needed to translate it into English (for legal reasons, all official documents have to be written in English and Swahili). Besides, after a few little quarrels, I explained them that the constitution should be the document where solutions should be found in case of disputes. After proposing my help to add a part on how to divide an order, the women agreed to change their founding document.
Mkwiro women's group with a mass of beautiful products

So far, the constitution has been translated but we still have to add the part regarding the orders. It proves to be quite challenging to have ¾ of the group present to change the constitution (as it is stipulated in the constitution itself) but we have to believe in it.

After ten weeks now, I am amazed by what the women’s group has achieved and really excited to see them going to Diani and approach businesses. They already started working with the Reef in Shimoni and have now the possibility to sell their products there during the high season. I really hope that when our meetings start again (it is not possible to have meetings during the month of Ramadan), we will manage to finish our last objective and then go to Diani!

Julie Barrot De Brito - Community field staff/Intern