Matheus Hamutenya Satco-With numerous government-funded projects failing to reach their full potential, the Doen En Sien Self Satco leather project is one of a few success stories of projects run by community members. And while many projects have ceased operations just a few months after starting, the leather project which was started 18 years ago still operates, making good leather products such as hand-made shoes, sandals, belts, key holders, and saddles. Project chairperson, Maria Kooper attributed the project’s success on the understanding and unity amongst the members and on members not focusing on making money but building the project. “If you start with a project, do not think of the money that you will make but focus on building it up first and getting something out of it later,” she said. She said despite facing numerous challenges on their almost two decades journey, the group has stood firm and united in making sure that the business moves forward. Kooper narrated that the members have learnt to work with each other, saying although they disagree on certain things, they learn from the disagreements and misunderstandings, and they turn that into positives for the sake of the business. “The key is understanding each other, even when we have arguments, we learn from it and we continue in unity as a group,” she said. Kooper narrated that the project has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 1998, noting that the business has managed to get better infrastructure to operate from compared to the small shack they operated from previously, while the market has also grown significantly over the years. She further said that the demand for their products is very high and that the products are not only sought after by the immediate communities but by different people from different areas in the country, as well as tourists. “People are very interested in buying our products, especially the shoes, we sell to different people, even tourists come here to buy our products,” she said. Kooper also explained that although most of the eight members depend on the project for their livelihoods, they do not get a fixed monthly salary, stating that income is shared when it is enough and necessary. But while the project has flourished so far, Kooper indicated that the project’s main challenge is the cost of the materials to make their products, which she described as very expensive, but she was quick to note that bookkeeping training undertaken by the members has helped them keep their finances balanced.
2018-01-30 09:03:08 7 months ago