Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Selecting bead-makers for Bead For Life

The great non-profit organization Bead For Life is one that doesn't just give money, but employs women in the under-developed world in hopes that they can become entrepreneurs on their own. The women begin as bead-makers, but after earning some money are encouraged to strike out on their own. Bead For Life has an elaborate screening process that weeds out the women who are unmotivated or unlikely to succeed.

From Forbes Magazine, writer Carol Hymowitz tells us more about the selection process. The jewelry made by these women can be purchased at the Bead For Life website, you can also look for information on how to sell the jewelry yourself.

The nonprofit, like many international aid organizations, understands that one of the best ways to alleviate poverty in developing nations is to help women become entrepreneurs whose incomes can lift the entire family's standard of living. But BeadforLife, which was founded six years ago, also has learned that some women are far more adept at running businesses than others, and that it must identify early on those most likely to succeed if it wants to achieve good results. The group has created an 18-month entrepreneurial program that targets women who are ambitious and innovative and helps them launch profitable ventures.

"Instead of just doling out money, we want to identify women who can use the bead-making skills we teach as a stepping stone to do something more," says Torkin Wakefield, co-executive director of BeadforLife.

Most of the women BeadforLife works with have never held a steady job, had a bank account or completed grammar school. Some have AIDS, malaria or other debilitating diseases, and many have several young children who depend on their care. "We are working with the poorest of the poor," says Rashmi Nakhooda, coordinator of the entrepreneurial program.

But their chances of success depend on the same traits as entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley or Shanghai, Nakhooda adds, namely "having a dream, a focus and being extremely hard-working."

When 96 women showed up for a recent orientation workshop the nonprofit had publicized, they were first given an arithmetic test. "If they can't do simple addition, they can easily incur a loss and not even realize it," says Nakhooda. The test was the simplest hurdle, however. Those who passed were interviewed over the course of several days about their experience, about how they handle conflicts, (such as sorting out quarrels with children) and how they've made life choices. Each was also asked to describe her business goals and how she aimed to achieve them.

"One woman had no idea why she was at the workshop, so we ruled her out. But another who couldn't walk, who was in a wheelchair, was determined to find a way to earn money, so we asked her to stay" says Nakhooda, who moved to Uganda from India 14 years ago and used to teach in a Kampala business school. Over three days, the group of 96 was winnowed down to 50 women.


Marie Pang said...

Iam glad reading this article...while Iam seeking organization or NGO to help me to solved for what iam thinking of...we are in small village in Jogjakarta cal iam working ng teaching many womens around my place with making jewellry for fair trade...but now with so many China beads coming in our country..we try to develope beads from Indonesian handwoven fabric also from magazine..and we design beatiful neclace and bracellete on it....

we would seeking NGO or organisation helping to our growth...please advise if any intrested in helping the samall vllage womens like us...

Kale said...

Hello Marie, Bead for Life would be a great organization to contact. I remember reading about a website that was allowing crafters to sell their art directly to the world. I will try looking that up tonight.

Tell us more! You have an open invitation to write an post about your village and its efforts.

Kale said...

The websites we were thinking of were...


contact them to see if they can help, and let us know how what happens!