Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sales and a Surprise

We had a last minute flurry trying to finish a number of samples of the new products for the 2nd International Craft Fair, but ended up having too many products to display on our table.
We thought the flow of people was a little down on last years event, although we still made sales of over $100 over the 6 hr market, which was  a great improvement compared to the recent Independence Market in town.
I was able to meet with Nga Nguyen (a consultant from BESIK) who was in Dili to present the findings of a preliminary survey on women’s Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM). Last November Besik sent some staff out to 2 districts and interviewed some women.  The consultant wanted to meet with me and see Belekria’s products.  She also invited me to hear the report the following Monday at the Ministry of Health.
I also happened to have a stall next to me with a lady who is starting a small business doing dog training etc.  She had a chat with me about Belekria producing some “treat bags” for dog owners to hold treats while training.
Finally and perhaps most wonderfully, I was introduced to a lovely American woman who is leaving Timor in a few weeks.  She was explaining that she had $1200 which had been donated to support the commencement of a business, but the business in mind had not got off the ground, so she was hoping to find a worthwhile use for the money, and she asked if Belekria needed machines or some other infrastructure.  My eyes opened a little wider and I explained that as we had had so much work, our sweet home machines were being overworked and were starting to be unusable – over heating etc.  I also explained that I had been discussing the possibility of purchasing some industrial machines such as the tailors here use.
She was excited by the idea and encouraged me to find and buy some machines and she would hand over the donation! WOW!
So we are looking at purchasing 2-3 industrial machines and hopefully letting our sweet home style
machines take a break though we will still need them for fancy stitches like zig zag etc.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Time Management

While these massive order of pads has been quite an intense focus for Belekria, it hasn’t really stopped them from completing other smaller jobs.  The women have been good at delegating roles, so one of them is responsible for mending jobs that come in.  She will serve the customer and do the mending then get back into the pad factory line.
Another woman is in charge of keeping up with the lumber rolls.  I'm not actually sure if I’ve mentioned these before, but a lovely lady from NZ has a physiotherapy practice here in Dili and she sells lumber rolls.  She has been getting Belekria to sew them since Jan and tends to buy 5-10 a month.  They have even been taking extra work home with them in order to stay on top of things, so I have been impressed by their dedication.
They are always making school uniform sales and adjustments, as well as whipping up a few extra items to try and sell at markets.

Friday, June 20, 2014

CARE order confirmed

This is old news now!  Apparently i didnt actually post this earlier.....
 CARE has since picked up their order and we have been able to maintain one of the three women as an extra part time staff member since then.

We have received a few visits by CARE staff over the past few weeks, and they have officially ordered 500 pads *YAY* 
 This confirmed us keeping the extra 3 women working for a second month.  

CARE also have provided a lot of encouragement and support to the Belekria staff, and have given a few good suggestions.
One of which is to try and inform the Ministry of Health about the issue of MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management)  and what Belekria is doing.  So Emmy has made a number of visits to the Ministry of Health and has been receiving good feedback and last week she was asked to write a letter to someone important within the Dept.  She tried to deliver it twice today but the important person was out both times, so she will try again tomorrow.
A second good prompt from CARE was that Belekria needs a bank account.    We had been making feeble attempts to get that sorted but when we realised that both these large orders will want an account to pay into, we found some extra motivation.
I'm not sure what its like to open a business bank account tin Oz, but here the list of documents was pretty long – 9 I think. Thankfully most of them we had already form the registration process.  But one more was needed.  So far this has meant 3 trips to various Gov. locations, hopefully now it won’t be long before we have a bank account.  CARE has since become a little worried that the account won’t be open before the end of the month, so as a precaution they have asked Emmy to write a letter to request payment as a personal check, so this will be a good backup.  CARE need to pay us before the end of June, so the women have been working hard on completing their order quickly.

When the women started cutting out the bulk pads PUL, we found them a few times starting from one side of the fabric straight, but by mid way across the tessellations were not joining up.  First I just tried to cut out 3 extra single templates so they could set out a few at a time, but this still did not seem to be adequate.  So my thinking cap went on, and I decided to cut a large template which could reach across the folded PUL.  Many hours of careful cutting later I had produced a foldable template, that seems to be effective.