Comfort the Weaver
I had the privilege of meeting Comfort a year ago when she was applying for a grant from ATE. She was delighted to receive the gift of a framed photo of her taken during that visit. Comfort is a young lady who lives (with her family) in a remote area to the south of Lawra. She lives in a small cluster of buildings that form the family home. The surrounding land is open grassland with few bushes. Other houses are scattered around the area and it is some distance from villages or towns.
Nearly twelve months ago Comfort was granted money to repair her loom so that she could re-commence her weaving business. It is clear that she is a skilled weaver, and she focuses on producing quality cloth that is used by people to make clothes for special occasions. Comfort’s main source of work is weaving to order for local people, although she has produced some cloth to try and sell without an order.
Comfort’s business has been monitored every month since the grant was awarded and the results confirm that she is struggling to make the business profitable. She has attended the business workshops that ATE provides for the supported businesses. These workshops have helped her to understand that the major obstacle to success is access to a wider potential market to sell her cloth – she has the capacity to produce more cloth than she currently does. Her isolation from a larger population obviously makes her business a difficult one to operate successfully.
In order to try and address this issue Comfort has started travelling around the local areas to display her cloth. She understands that she might have to explore whether she should rent a workshop in a local town or village so that she is closer to a larger potential market for her cloth. If she decides that she needs to do this she would need to consider approaching ATE for a re-grant and thereby be assisted with developing a business plan to help determine the viability of such a proposal.
Written by Stephen Hodgson on his return to Lawra in February 2017.