Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact
There are currently six participants in the WWP. Each of these six women receive a weekly advanced payment of 250 bolivianos (approximately 36 USD) for the woven goods they bring to PL's offices each week for resale. The 1000 Bs (about 142 USD) they receive monthly is well above Bolivia's current monthly minimum wage, which is 680 Bs (about 96 USD). Previously, when begging or selling sweets in the streets, the women were unable to make even the monthly minimum wage, a figure that informal sector workers almost never meet. The advanced payment of 1000 Bs per month has gone toward school tuition for the women's children, and also toward proper nutrition for their families. The women no longer need to beg or sell sweets in the streets, thereby having more free time to spend at home with their families as well. At least two of the WWP participants are planning to use some of their savings to wire their homes for electricity because they would like to have light at night.
With respect to level of earnings, the WWP participants are actually making more than the 1000 Bs they receive as advanced payment each month. By selling project participants' woven goods abroad, PL is able to get a much higher market price than could be obtained in Bolivia. All the money earned in excess of the women's advanced payment is deposited into individual savings account that PL keeps in each participants' name. Four participants have withdrawn approximately 5000 Bs each to start their small business ventures. Two participants are currently still considering what type of small business to start. As these businesses mature, we hope that they can provide a more stable source of income independent of sales of woven goods abroad, which can fluctuate depending on many non-local factors.
Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing
The primary problem that our innovation seeks to address is poverty alleviation through community empowerment and local business development. With Fair Trade Federation membership status, which the organization hopes to receive this year, PL hopes to be able to sell more of the WWP participants' woven goods. The participants weave many of the items that their families use on a daily basis, and the sale of these goods that they are skilled in producing helps generate the capital that they will then invest and use to grow their business ideas. As the businesses develop, participants will learn better money management skills. As their expendable income grows, their children will not have to work on the streets to support the family. Particpants' children have all been able to return to or continue school as a result of the extra income they are receiving. With better education, these families will have a better chance at ending the generational cycle of poverty in which many families in the countryside find themselves.
Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?
Most of the WWP participants are unable to read and write, and only two speak Spanish in additional to their native language, Quechua. Performing Life staff have been assisting in keeping track of expenses and earnings, discussing with the women each week the importance of keeping track of whether any business decision results in a profit or loss. The women are learning to keep track of their own expenses and earnings, making decisions about what purchases need to be made now, and which purchases can wait until their earnings increase. Three of the women have started their business ventures on a small scale, first selling potatoes. When they found that they were able to make a small profit, they expanded their inventory to include other types of vegetables. These women have also invested some of their start-up capital in items necessary to start a small street-side restaurant, such as a stove, large pots, plates, and silverware. As their earnings grow from the sale of vegetables, they plan to reinvest and further diversify the menu of food items they offer at their small restaurants. PL staff intend to train the women further on small business management, possibly recruiting volunteer students from the local universities to come in and hold workshops during the women's weekly meetings at PL's offices. PL staff continue to work with the women in tracking earnings and costs in their indivdual businesses, but the women who have already started their business ventures are now essentially keeping track of their business expenses independently. PL staff continue to maintain the women's individual savings accounts to make sure the women can continue to receive their weekly advanced payment from these accounts. These savings accounts contain the women's earnings from the sale of their weavings and is independent from the the women's businesses. It was determined to keep these two pools of capital separate so that the women's financial stability would remain relatively certain as they pursue their business ventures.
Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible
Over the next year, all six WWP participants will have started their independent business ventures. They will continue to learn money management and record keeping skills, and grow their businesses from the initial starting stage. Performing Life will hopefully have obtained Fair Trade Federation membership, and the women's woven goods will sell at a higher volume, thereby growing the project participant's pool of capital for investment in their businesses and home improvement.
Over the second year, the initial six participants will continue to grow and expand their businesses. As sales of woven goods increase, PL hopes to facilitate a loan from the initial six participants' savings accounts to help new participants. PL would like to recruit four more weaving women to be part of the WWP, and the loan from the initial six participants would help the new recruits with cost of materials for weaving, and also with the costs of new individual businesses if the new recruits already have an idea of what type of business they would like to pursue. The success of the initial group of project participants could thereby help accelerate the progress of new participants toward the goal of owning a small, income-generating business of their own.
During the third year, Performing Life would like all WWP participants to be able to invest earnings from their weavings and their small businesses in home improvement projects of their choice, if they have not already started. Many of the initial six participants do not have running water and electricity, which could both contribute to a healthier environment for their children. The most recently recruited project participants will have been able to repay the loan they received from the initial project participants. The initial group will hopefully be able to serve as mentors to the newest participants with regard to business and money management techniques. Eventually, as both groups continue to meet with success in their small business operations, Performing Life will be able to recruit even more participants and help more families break the cycle of poverty.
If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?
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