Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jacaranda Creations, Maruri Branch

Jacaranda Creations is a ministry designed to serve the ladies who live in the Nairobi slums by providing work and thus income. The needs of the families who live here are much greater than could ever be met by one ministry, but the effect Jacaranda Creations and Brenda are having on the women who live there is tremendous. I hope to learn more about her business model with the idea that it might be duplicated in Uganda, perhaps with the Konoweka women.

We visited the Maruri slums, the location of one of several branches where the women gather to work on projects assigned by Jacaranda. The office is simple and is one of four small sections in a larger (but still very small) building. The two rooms are tidy – one is filled with sewing machines that the ladies come to use every day, another is a workspace with a tall table and access to irons and other equipment needed to make the products. The walls are painted a soothing shade of lavender and a jacaranda tree graces one of them.

As I think about what this workspace means to Jacaranda and the women who work there, I think about the practical value. What goes into having such a space? First, rent and electricity (monthly). Second, equipment and maintenance (sewing machines, irons, scissors, etc.). How simple the idea seems, really, provided the cost of rent and utilities can be kept up. In Uganda, I believe this cost would be about $75 monthly.

The part I have yet to understand is how the equipment stays put and stays in good condition. I don’t mean to sound negative, but it’s much more common that equipment breaks down and stays in disrepair and that the scissors are “borrowed” never to be returned. Instilling a sense of ownership in the ladies who work here is essential but it’s not often enough. I look forward to talking to Brenda more about how she manages these outposts and how she identified and selected leaders to help.