When we started out building Truss, all we wanted to do was help women, we wanted to give back. However, we quickly learned that we had to pay attention to structures and sustainability whilst building the non-profit if we were going to be able to measure our impact. It was very important to us that the women we work with do not fall off the learning curve before they are well grounded with the skills and resources needed to transform their lives.
Also, we wanted them to be able to empower their families, particularly develop the capacity needed to train their children in a fast paced world and be in a better position to help them get on the right track, especially for women in underdeveloped communities.
In the words of our founder, Mrs. Azukaego Chukwuelue, “Our process is such that we go first to the different communities to understand what needs are there, what are the gaps, what are the opportunities to fill. And then we go back to design programmes that can meet those needs. The mission is to get women to a place where they understand what the skill gaps are understand how to close those skills and build the capabilities relevant to compete.”
After a few projects, we decided to begin looking at working directly and closely with a community. So, our first stop was the Tarkwa Bay community. Even though we did not have external funding, we carried out a mini NEEDS assessment in the community to determine the most valuable entry point that can benefit the women in the community. Amidst other things, our findings revealed that entrepreneurial skills is one of the suitable projects to the community.
In the month of June, we brought in our partnership manager, Mrs. Abiola, who has an expertise in industrial soap making to teach some of the women how to make industrial soap. In addition, we had a small seminar where we taught them how to effectively monetise the skill and gave them some raw materials to produce their first batch.
In October, which also makes it 1 year since the inception of Truss, we decided to go check on the women and see what they had done so far. And it was amazing to just sit with them, hear them share what the journey had been since we started them on the entrepreneurship path and generally stay in tune with their progress. The women were quick to intimate us on how challenging it had been primarily due to the distance they had to travel from their island community to get materials on the mainland which impacted not so well on their profit.
Albeit, they were in high spirits and hopeful about finding ways around maximizing costs. In the words of Bose Bakare, one of the women, “I feel good and happy about the opportunity Truss has given to us. Just being able to learn something you did not know how to do before, and being able to make good use of it from petty cash trading to using it for household cleaning.”
We went ahead to teach them about the power in teaming up amongst themselves rather than just individual production to reduce production costs and maximize profit. Our partnership manager also shared with them other advanced methods to scale production using the same materials. We look forward to doing more with the women of the Tarkwa Bay community.