What does SHONA mean?
It means "sew" in Swahili.
Who funds you?
SHONA started with no outside funding or support. We are not affiliated with any other organization. It really is just 5 women, and the work of our hands.
How does it work?
All the products in our store are already in stock in the United States. To get new stock, we send a "product order" to each woman roughly once a month (by text message). Each woman then goes to the market, buys cloth, sews it and ships the finished products to the US. Each woman is paid per piece for every item she sews when it is ready to be shipped. That allows each woman to be paid for her work regularly, and she can anticipate how much she will earn each month.
How much do the women earn?
Each woman earns 100% of the anticipated profit from every item she sews.
But what does that really mean? What are your operating expenses?
That is a very important question to ask of every organization. Many organizations, even fair trade organizations, have hefty operating expenses and the artisans are only earning a small fraction of the sales price on a product.
SHONA is an extremely lean because we have no paid staff, no offices and warehouses, and almost no advertising budget. That is why you can make such a big difference with SHONA. You can buy a bag, and know that the money is going straight to the people who made it.
SHONA's regular expenses are:
website fees (roughly $40 a month)
paypal, bank, and money transfer fees
phone and text communication (skype)
advertising ($30 a month)
Other than these expenses, the money from all sales is returned to the artisans.
We strongly believe that ALL TRADE SHOULD BE FAIR TRADE, in its most true sense. But fair trade can't be just about logos and labels. It is about the FAIR AND JUST EXCHANGE OF GOODS. We believe that the best way to do this is the most direct way. The more that we can buy our goods, directly from the people who create them, the better.
Fair trade organizations can offer another excellent way of supporting artisans. But it is impotant to ask the same questions we ask of ourselves.
1. "What percentage of your profit goes to the INDIVIDUAL ARTISAN?"
2. "What are your operating expenses?"