Another rural outreach business training I conducted back in November was to a project near Rupara in Kavango West, just about 60km from Rundu. The Haingura Abercross group makes traditional baby carriers using animal skins, sewing a fabric border and attaching beads and shells for style. The carriers are very popular locally and in other parts of Namibia.
History of the project
In 1974, a missionary gave a machine, baby carrier pattern and trained the founder (who is disabled) on how to cut and stitch the patterns for the baby carriers. The project was started to give an income-generating activity to disadvantaged community members. In the 1980’s the original machine was destroyed in a fire and a new machine was given to the project. In the 1990’s a second machine was purchased by the group. The number of project members has seemed to remain about 5-10 over the years.
The main product is a traditional-looking baby carrier made using animal skins (usually springbok) and material purchased from a fabric shop and then decorated with shells and beads. They also tried to make handbags at one point, but this requires folding over the animal skin and the current machine cannot handle this kind of production.
My counterpart and I conducted an assessment of the group’s needs and challenges and taught basic business skills over the course of five days. This group did not seem as motivated and organized as the Omega project, but it is impressive that they have continued to exist for more than 40 years.
Last month we made a follow up to the group and were pleased to see that even though production was very low, they were keeping track of sales and expenses! They had not done any sort of bookkeeping in the past so this is a good start on their path to organizing their financials.
The project did run into a big problem as the early season rains caused their production hut to collapse.