Remember March? That small space in time where the world slowly screeched to a halt?
Most of us at Loom happened to be in Tanzania as it unfolded, launching our first official small business training with a cohort of 27 social innovators. When we returned to lockdowns and closed borders, we knew it was time for another “first” – completing the rest of the training with participants remotely.
Through a combination of Facebook live and Whatsapp groups, these 27 participants completed assignments, conducted market research, and composed a business plan. From chicken farming, to pineapple planting, to small retail stores and other services, their plans meet real needs in the community with the potential of adding many new jobs as they grow. Thanks to some generous donors, Loom was able to provide each entrepreneur with a small grant for startup costs. Now, their small businesses are ready to launch!
Several weeks ago we celebrated a virtual “graduation” to honor the hard work each of these innovators has put in during this challenging and uncertain time. We celebrate their commitment to seeking solutions that compound the layers of impact in their community. And we will walk with them from here, as each entrepreneur receives a dedicated coach for the first six months of their new business.
Why business? Loom is committed to seeing social enterprise and small business succeed in these communities, because we want to see the most vulnerable empowered with choice in every area of their lives. We want to see parents be able to provide for their families; children have the opportunity of education; young women have the choice of work with dignity; pregnant women and their children have adequate nutrition and medical care; the elderly cared for; and space for all the creativity and culture that is part of a sustainable, thriving community.
As one social innovator who completed the training recently shared with us:
“This whole thing has brought hope and life again into the hopelessness I was sinking into. You have helped me grow and be exposed to the world of business. I was sinking deep into poverty. But God heard my cry and used you to lift me up. My heart is full of joy and I don’t have enough words to appreciate you.”
The name “Vuka,” which they chose for their cohort, means “Arise,” or “Wake up.” Our desire is for these enterprises to become an infusion of new life for their communities, awakening us all to the power and potential waiting within the so-called poor.