I am finding I am constantly retelling the story of Audrey Cordera , an amazing woman I met at the Reuters Digital Vision Programme in Stanford when I visited last May. Audrey is from the Phillipines and is the regional rep on the Youth to End Poverty campaign, as well as running a Youth Employment Network.
She talked to the Digital Vision Fellows about helping Youth from the Phillipines out of deep poverty through entrepreneurship and getting them started on projects, however small. When she was asked how she did it all, and what her business plan was she told the story I love to repeat.
One day she was given a handbag by a friend of hers. Not any old handbag , but one made by her friend. When travelling in the US she was asked by another woman if she could tell her where she could buy one of these bags.
Disappointed that she could not buy this one-off in a shop she asked Audrey if she could buy hers! This got Audrey thinking and on her return she had a few more made and shipped them over for people to buy. But the imaginative leap she then made was to get the original friend who made the bag to work with her putting together the parts and pieces needed for the production process. She farmed out the work to pieceworkers, to women who needed work, and offered them a fair price for their labour – the labour costs of assembling the bags. She bought the bags and sold them on. Now what she does is pay for the work that is done to make the bag from the kit of parts – but also is prepared to pay more for original features added by the women, and more again if the women find the parts themselves.
This is, it seems, the work that funds her work with the youth employment network too. Some business plan – left the RDVP fellows with much food for thought.
Chatting later with Stuart Gannes, the Director of the Programme , we brainstormed how we might be able to work together. They are very well connected on the ground in some countries we might like to work in – and so a good resource for us and perhaps a partner for the trial.