Business and Education Plan
Measure of Success
As a social enterprise, profit is not the main goal of “Restoring Hope Ministries”, but the betterment of the lives of widows and other disadvantaged women and their families. As such, the program will be considered “successful” if the lives of the women who receive training are tangibly improved in the following areas:
Consistently able to afford to feed themselves and any dependents
Access to clean water and sanitary facilities
Able to afford medical care and medicine when needed
Able to afford a safe home with reasonable living conditions (not subject to regular flooding, pest infestation, or theft)
Able to afford their own (if applicable) and their dependents’ education
Most incoming students will be severely lacking in one or more of these basic human needs, but these goals should be attainable for each woman within 6 months of graduating from this course.
The way the program reaches this goal is through providing enough training to open up microenterprises. Each woman who completes the course will earn her own sewing machine to use at home and will run a successful business to support herself and her family. A select few students will also be trained up to be teachers who will start new schools.
Method to Enroll Students
The sewing school will not advertise or be open to the public at large. The target demographic for this program is limited to women, especially widows and single mothers who live in substandard conditions. The ladies who are allowed to participate in this program are chosen by a team of Mozambicans, who evaluate the candidates on a basis of both need and capacity to learn. Some widows are simply too old to sew well, and others are not in as dire of situations if they have family supporting them. So the women chosen for the program must be under the age of 55 and have little to no outside support coming in for themselves or their families. Living conditions will be evaluated during a home visit and asking for references of people who know the women.
Schedule and Size
The full sewing course runs for a total of 6 months per term. The sewing school facility is open every morning for graduates who do not yet have their own machines to come and sew until they have made enough to move their business home, thus no longer needing to spend time and finances on transport. In the afternoons, there will be two separate courses running on alternating days; a Monday/Wednesday class and a Tuesday/Thursday class. Each class will have 10 students, for a total of 20 per term and 40 per year.
Teachers and Program Growth
Teachers are not paid a salary, but a commission based on the success of their students in producing quality, sellable products (see Accounting, below). A few weeks into each new course, the headteacher should choose at least one student who shows great promise in both sewing ability and leadership skills, and mentor this lady to be an assistant and then a future teacher. An assistant will work with the head teacher for the remainder of that term plus an additional full term, then the head teacher should move out of the “Mother School” to start her own “Daughter School” and the assistant will become the new headteacher, who will take on assistants and continue the cycle.
As a social enterprise seeking to help exceedingly poor women, there is no tuition or other cost to the student to attend the school. All the program requires of the students is consistent attendance, active participation, and definite signs of improvement in sewing skills. If a student has more than 4 absences or drops out within the first month, her space will be given to another to complete the term. A portion of the profit from the students’ work goes back into the program, as explained below.
The school purchases all consumable materials--fabric, thread, zippers, etc.--and rolls these costs into the final product’s price, which are recuperated at the sale of the items. The profit from the product’s sale is split into 3 parts, with 60% going to the student’s future sewing machine fund, 20% to the teacher, and 20% back to the school to allow for future growth. The teacher will keep track of each student’s production, and their earnings will be kept by the school until enough is raised to purchase a sewing machine. If at any time a student has a major family emergency and no other source of funds, she is allowed to withdraw a portion of her earnings. This simply means it will take her longer to buy her own machine, and will continue paying into the program until she can work from home.
Graduates who are still using the sewing school facility but do not yet have their own machines must give the program 20% of their profits, to incentivise them to save up enough to have their own machines and not remain dependent on the program.
The kinds of items to be learned are determined at the beginning of the new term. The school will create a manual with clear instructions explaining how to create each item, this manual will assist the teacher in instructing the course and the students will each receive a copy of this manual on graduation. Each student will work independently and must successfully sew a certain quantity of each item (which will vary depending on the item) before moving on to the next thing. The program is responsible for selling the items, either locally or through export. Sewing machine upkeep and problem solving strategies will be taught alongside sewing lessons, as the need arises.
The course will also have a few days devoted to business instruction, clearly explaining how to run a successful microenterprise.
The program will encourage graduates to start their own shops to sell their products on their own, but if they are unsuccessful the program will offer to purchase their items at a reduced rate (with the lady receiving 80% of the profit and 20% going to the program) for resale. This way, as long as they are industrious and productive, their livelihoods are guaranteed even if they have trouble with the business side of things, as they always have at least one guaranteed customer for their products. Moreover, any time the program is given an order of products to complete, the graduates will be notified and will receive more guaranteed work to support their families. This way the sewing school will be freed up from completing orders and will be able to progress through the lesson plans as scheduled.
Once the school is registered with the department of education, the school will be able to offer certificates of completion to the students who successfully graduate from the course.
The program administrators will meet with each graduate at 3 months and 6 months following completion of the course to ascertain that their businesses are going well and that their livelihoods have indeed improved as a result of the course, as per the measures of success. Any who are still struggling will be counseled and offered advice on how to move forward.
Sales and Export
The program will have several shops set up around Beira to sell the products made by students. Graduates should open up their own shops, but if these prove unsuccessful they will be allowed to sell through the program’s official shops, as stated above in the “graduates” section. Restoring Hope Ministries will also open up an online store and export items to the USA for sale. In these cases, the prices charged per item will be higher than the Mozambican prices, but this will be to offset the costs of export and shipping. Any extra profit made above that will go toward the growth of the program, for example buying sewing machines for the experienced teachers to start up daughter schools.