July 2016

1) Monthly Video:

2) Description of Activities

A. Workshop Construction Finishes, Bathroom Begins

Construction of the roof, walls, windows, and electrical systems in the workshop is finished. The shop is furnished with a shelving system and two working tables. The shop is painted blue and green in a bright tie-dye pattern. Two industrial sewing machines, one embroidery machine, and two hand machines are added to the facility. The front porch of the shop includes a ramp for accessibility. An accessible bathroom is started next to the shop along with a surrounding wall. The property is currently unfenced on one-side, and for security, Matilda decides the workplace should be enclosed.

B. Installation of Rainwater Capturing System & Tank

To reduce reliance on local groundwater resources and take advantage of our newly constructed roofing, we add rainwater gutters to the rooftop and angle the roof appropriately. We also purchase a 489 gallon polytank for water storage. In Ghana, the rainy season is April through July, so we are able to start filling the tank even though we have missed the majority of the rainy season.

C. Employee Recruitment Efforts

Recruitment begins for potential employees. We contact local NGOs including our project partner, the Disability Needs Foundation, who identifies a woman with a physical disability, who is a seamstress with a low-paying job, who comes for an interview. Other local NGOs, churches, and governmental employment agencies are contacted, and job recruitment signs are pasted throughout the community, advertising employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and any person with seamstressing or tailoring skills.

D. Sourcing of Organic Cotton, Zippers & Other Materials

After two-months of analyzing potential suppliers for organic cotton, we decide our best short-term option is to import organic cotton from a supplier in the United States, Organic Cotton Plus. This cotton is certified organic and is available - whereas many other producers require lead times of several weeks or months. However, the cost of shipping the 50 yards of cotton and organic cotton zippers equals the cost of the products, which is unsustainable long-term.

E. Post & Send Employee Recruitment Materials

Matilda prints thirty single-sheet employment recruitment posters, which she and her husband posts throughout the neighboring community of Amasaman and in Makola Market in Accra where seamstresses and tailors work. The posters only yield a handful of calls and appear to fall off or be ripped down quickly by community members because within a week, they are gone. Emails sent to local NGOs lead to email correspondence and a referral of a cloth-maker applicant with a daughter with a disability. The local governmental youth employment office agrees to provide potential applicants with disabilities during the next year.

F. Workshop Location Dispute

Matilda's house is located next to the property of an estranged family member, who expresses discontent about her advancing her business with the construction of the workshop due to a long history of familial conflict. After threatening to damage the shop, Matilda summons local authorities to measure the property line and inform the neighbor to stop. The neighbor pays a fine for causing the dispute, and no further communication or complaints occur. The rest of the neighborhood expresses interest in the workshop, and many neighbors visit the site to learn about the work and the employment opportunities offered.

G. Released More Sketches & Prototypes

Matilda continues to produce additional prototype jackets, sweatshirts, trousers, and shorts, which Matilda Flow Co. share via the founder's personal Facebook page and in emails to friends, family, and project supporters - along with updates about the construction of the shop and progress on hiring.

H. Search for Local Affordable, Sustainable Materials

Due to the extremely high-cost and poor environmental and operational efficiency of shipping materials from the United States and Europe to Ghana, we are still searching for more sustainable local options. We located an article referring to an organic cotton supplier in Mali, West Africa, so we contacted the organization in-charge of funding the project - in hopes that we can reach the farmers and develop a partnership. 

I. Program for Adults with Different Intellectual Abilities

Lack of employment for adults with intellectual disabilities is a major barrier in Ghana. Ruby, Matilda's daughter, is now nineteen, and though she has not completed primary school, she is gaining little from school attendance due to the lack of appropriate special education services. Matilda recently discovered that Ruby was sitting outside of the classroom all day, so she decided to begin training her at-home in seamstress work. Matilda Flow Co. decides to formalize this program for Ruby and other adults with disabilities, so they can earn a wage to provide for their upkeep and receive individualized tutoring after work to maximize their abilities.

G. Workshop Accounting Procedures

After discussions about the best way to manage record-keeping in the shop, Matilda agrees to abide by diligent account procedures, recording all expenses and workplace activities related to the project in a journal kept in the shop. These pages are provided to Matilda Flow Co. in-person or sent via email at least once per month.

H. Marketing Strategies and Inclusive Stories

At conception, MFC imagined itself as an art-driven enterprise, which makes clothes attached to stories. Matilda, Ruby and DL begin composing a fashion story titled "Ruby Is Respectful." Though they originally plan to use this story for marketing and sales, we also see that MFC itself has a story of social impact that is becoming increasingly important to share, which we need to incorporate into our website structure and in our broader business narrative.

3) Financial Report

Expenses This Month: $3813.76

Workers: $181.82

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD): Details:
Matilda Lartey, Prototype Designs

Materials: $1302.06

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD): Details:
7/25/16 - 739.44 50 Yards Organic Cotton Fabric, Shipped from USA
45 11.68 Cutting Sheers & Measuring Sticks
7/30/16 - 550.94 Organic Cotton Threads and Zippers, Shipped from USA

Construction & Expansion: $2329.88

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD): Details:
7/2/16 100 25.97 Installation of Gutters for Rainwater Collection
7/3/16 700 181.82 Boards, Roofing Sheets, Door Hinge, Window Hinge, Door Locks, Padlocks
7/6/16 875 227.27 489 Gallon Polytank
7/6/16 840 218.18 Electrical Work for Installation of Lights and Outlets
7/10/16 845 219.48 Paint for Workshop & Cement for Polytank Installation
7/15/16 2536.40 658.81 Embroidery Machine, Industrial Sewing Machine, Hand Sewing Machine, Transport & Fixing
7/15/16 300 98.34 Ceiling Fans & Light Bulbs
7/20/16 50 12.99 Polytank & Gutter Connections
7/26/16 800 207.79 Truck of Sand for Cement Blocks to Build Fence
7/29/16 1565.00 406.50 Industrial Sewing Machine, Hand Sewing Machine, Rubber Sealing Machines, Transport & Fixing
7/29/16 280 72.73 Chairs for the Sewing Machines

Summation of Activities This Month:

  • 1 worker employed
  • 50 yards of organic cotton ordered 
  • 1 workshop constructed
  • 5 sewing machines purchased

Progress Since Launch: -$5425.96

Matilda Flow Co. has been in operation for two-months. Sales have not started.

4) Interviews

No formal interviews were conducted this month.

5) Analysis

Financial Sustainability:

The project has incurred a loss of $5425.96 in operational and construction expenses since onset and does not plan to begin sales until August or September. Financial losses are expected for the first six months to the first year. Our first order of organic cotton, which was made so that we could begin production, does not represent a financially sustainable long-term plan due to the high-cost of the material. A more affordable alternative that is still environmentally responsible is needed.

Environmental Sustainability:

Organic cotton grown in India is ordered to begin production. However, because it is imported from abroad and requires shipping to Ghana, the environmental impact is in part diminished. A local supplier would be more environmentally favorable. Installation of a rainwater capturing system and use of rainwater for tie-dye reduces reliance on groundwater resources. Since rain only falls from May to July in Ghana, a second tank may be needed in the future to last for the duration of the year.

Health-Related Sustainability:

An accessible washroom is constructed on-site with sink so that appropriate bathroom hygiene can be observed by all employees with and without disabilities. Additional income earned by Matilda allows her to maintain savings for health emergencies to supplement the national health insurance scheme.

Social Impact:

Matilda hires two new workers for her workshop on a contract basis. One worker is Grace, who is a seamstress with a physical disability, who is eager to pursue a new work opportunity that will provide her with a better wage and more reasonable work hours. The second worker is Benjamin, who is a skilled tailor, who does not have any experiences with people with disabilities. Two more people with physical disabilities are hired on a commission basis to produce product tags for clothes.