Women of Kireka school fee marathon!
As many of you know, I am running the Montreal Oasis Marathon on September 5th, 2010 – in exactly 27 days! Running the marathon was partly inspired by the need to find a way to help pay school fees for the children of the Women of Kireka. These twenty women, who still work part-time in a quarry for a pittance, now have a small start-up jewelry business, which I helped to establish in 2008 in Kampala, Uganda and now assist through Project Diaspora.
As many of you also know, I’m generally no longer a fan of fundraising. After a couple years working on and off in Kenya and Uganda, and further experience in the “wheel of development,” I have learned to deeply appreciate the value of business. By business, I mean a system where a unique high-quality product, made through painstaking attention to detail, is fairly traded for monetary capital. This seems to be the most sustainable and engaging form of economic development.
In line with this, Women of Kireka has transformed itself from a donations-funded model, where international donors help to raise enough capital for the women to start their own business, to a small start-up business built on hard work by the people who make up the Women of Kireka and Project Diaspora.
However, in order to get Women of Kireka to where it is now, it was necessary to help the women spend a few less hours on the quarry. They identified school fees as one of their most expensive and stressful costs. By covering school fees for a year, Project Diaspora – and your first two round of donations – gave the women enough time to see if Women of Kireka was for them and whether we could build a successful business together.
This generous time has proved to be fruitful and we think that, after this final round of school fee donations, Women of Kireka will be entirely run as a business, no longer soliciting donations. In the little time we’ve had this year, we’ve registered Women of Kireka as a business, opened a local bank account for the women to place their savings, developed an emergency health fund scheme, launched one line of jewelry, developed a website and established a series of local and international partnerships with such groups as Solar Sister.
This final round of school fee donations will give the women the free time to perfect their second line of designs. It will also give us the time to focus on opening the online Women of Kireka store. We expect that these activities, particularly the opening of the online store, will ensure that the women can support their children next year in school and work increasingly with Women of Kireka, thus moving off the quarry for good.
Fortunately, the beginning of the children’s semester coincides with the Montreal Oasis Marathon. As I cross the finish line, the children will be getting ready for their final school term this year and we hope your generous contributions will help us pave the way for a successful new school term!
For more information on the Women of Kireka, please visit our website.