This is our second business and Sometimes support comes from the most unexpected places and, even though friends can be anywhere in the world, I never expected us to be able to say that we could be in big business for our small project. In a freezing January this year in Snow-bound Birmingham, UK, I sent out a request to support the building of the Chrysalis School. Money came from unexpected places and we were able to build the school in a month (!), ready for our first curriculum year to take off. All of our pupils needed sponsorsgip, so they needed people to help them pay fees at the school and also boarding, as the children are all from remote war-impacted areas in the North of Uganda. The children in the Chrysalis School are all gifted and talented and we chose them, not just because of this, but because they demonstrated to us that they wanted to change their home area and that they had some passion to help others. Sponsorship has been lean, though, and thus the finances of the school have been very stretched and we still need four sponsors. My contact at Birmingham Social Enterprise Consortium http://www.bssec.org.uk sent out the funding request to many social entrepreneurs in Birmingham and one lady had some inspiration, which could spell benefits across continents. She is Ann Reaney, from the Boys Brigade Birmingham, and she is responsible for social enterprise development. Ann’s idea was to work with us to import second hand clothes directly into Uganda, without the use of a profit-making intermediary, so that all profits could then be ploughed back into both organisations, without a slice being removed by the intermediary. She collected some money to pilot the project and to assess what sort of prices we could expect for clothes marketed here. Mercy, from the Chrysalis School is 12 and she has taken the responsibility of selling these clothes at markets in Kampala. Here she is, back in her village amongst the charcoal, back in November last year. You can see her now, with some other members of the Butterfly Project, at a sale at the American Embassy Recreation Centre in the photograph. Competition for second hand clothing is very tough in Kampala and we have had to search out markets in Banda, Bugolobi and Makindye Hill so far, to find our buyers, but we have sold roughly half of what was sent so far. New batches are on their way and we will be trying many different avenues for the clothes sales in the next few months.
Next year, we hope to ramp up the sales by buying the clothes by the tonne, mending and altering clothes and lastly ironing, providing some income to people in the Acholi Quarter too, we hope. This year’s income will be limited to what income can be raised to despatch goods, but if we win the Social Enterprise Challenge, a large despatch could be sent straightaway and the business could be generating income for us on an ongoing basis. So, this is business number two at the Chrysalis School – already underway – and in the next instalment, we will talk about “Chicken for Change”….