Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Marche

There will be much more about the Marche through the upcoming months.  One of my primary projects will be to help these women and their businesses become more profitable.  During training we learned how to do a needs assessment with village businesses.

We also learned how to teach them how to budget.  Not just how to budget, but what a budget is.  One facet of our work is to show them the value of keeping records and bookkeeping.  In training we learned how to demonstrate these things to them visually.  For example if I am teaching them what a budget is, I will make a chart, and on one side, have a list of all possible expenses for one week.  I will begin to ask them what they need to sell their product.  I'll have cutout pictures of those things, and begin to place them on the expense side of the chart.  How much time does it take?...and how much money do they have to spend?...using pictures.  On the other side of the chart, I will ask them how much they sell in one week and what they sell it for.  By the time we’ve finished the chart, hopefully the value of tracking this information will be obvious, the light will dawn and they will begin to make some changes, and make more of a profit….awwww capitalism.  There is a not so small part of me, that enjoys the way they do it now, but in the end, I know that it will be helpful for them to understand these concepts.  It will enable them to better provide for their families.  It will help put food in their Cauldrons, so to speak.   At this point in time, they have no concept of expenses vs. sales, and very, very often are making less money than they are spending.  They just make or grow the product, and receive money.  They are just happy to go home with money in their pockets.

 Groupement Head Honchos
Tough Cookies
There are over seventy-five women who belong to the ‘Femme Groupement Association.'  None of them speak French, only a few words of greeting.  All speak Ewe.  I have work to do to earn their trust and respect.  Right now, I'm just a novelty.  They really don’t have much use for me since I don’t speak their language, so little by little I’m getting to know them and getting to know about their businesses.  This is going to take time and patience.

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