What Pangea Women’s Network Cooperative are you apart of?
|Agruppa Mandasi Women Cooperative|
Tell us about yourself
|I am a 42-year-old businesswoman, mother to three children, ranging from college to primary school education. I run a dressmaking business as well as the sale of second-hand clothes in Rongai Town, Kajiado County.|
What are you most proud of?
I can stand on my own financially. Business is a risk and I am glad I took that risk. Initially, I used to make dresses at my house. This impacted negatively on my business and family life. The business was not so visible to potential customers and most of my customers were as a result of word of mouth. My family also bore the brunt of running my business in the house as their privacy was interfered with and also exposed my children to strangers. With time, and after taking the empowerment training, I learned the importance of running a business with set priorities. I managed to look for a business premises near my home and this enabled me to expand my business. This, in turn, increased my earning significantly and was able to cater to my family’s needs sufficiently. This included providing school fees for my children as well as other needs such as food and clothing. I even had some money to spare for savings, something I had not done in a long time.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned with The Pangea Network?
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
On finding opportunities around me, the recent worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus required me to be flexible enough to not only ensure I stay in business but also contribute in efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Since most people are not ordering dresses as they usually do, I thought it wise to embark on making masks using fabric that I have and sell them at an affordable price to the local environs. Following the guideline given by the Ministry of Health on how the masks work and how they should be sewn, I got the necessary materials and made face masks for sale, each going for Sh.70. This not only made it affordable but also easily available to the public. Recently, I started making masks in fabric with colors of flags of different countries. This is to drive the message that all countries united are fighting together to eliminate the virus.
I am happy that other women in dressmaking within the cooperative are following suit as they are also making the masks. I can make up to 20 masks in one day. Sales initially stood at between 20 to 30 pieces in a day. However, this has since dwindled as many people either have the masks or are obtaining them from other dressmakers. However, it is a combined effort to fight the prevailing enemy. It is my hope that the virus will be contained and eliminated so that we can run our businesses normally.