Barbara and I joined the Peace Corps to help people in need and to expand our own understanding by immersion in a culture new to us. PC assigned us to this country and to the CED (Community Economic Development) sector which is business related. (The two other PC sectors are Healthcare and Education.) We were later assigned to a town and to separate but related organizations: Barbara to work with a turnaround situation for a sheltered workshop, and I with the southern region of the NCCI (Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in support of their purpose of “furthering the development of commercial, industrial, craft and service enterprises and shall promote prosperity for all Namibians by ensuring balanced private sector growth, enterprise development and global competitiveness.” So, while my official assignment is to work with NCCI with my “main work to develop and support businesses through the Enterprise Development Program,” in actuality I have been working almost exclusively on Barbara’s official project. My role has been to collaborate and strategize with her, attend initial interviews and meetings with stakeholders, research marketing history, develop action plans, assist with physical inventory, analyze financial reports, engage NCCI in the process and consult with the board of trustees of Karas Huisen Crafts Trust. Our objective is to help drive the processes that will lead to either an agreement to dissolve the crafts business or recover its former glory in a sustainable way. Everyone seems to prefer the latter outcome!
Our activities have included preparing for and meeting with a couple dozen stakeholders – one-on-one and in groups. Then there is documentation and follow up to these meetings and conversations, study of financial reports, employment contracts, labor laws, assessments by previous consultants, organizing board meetings and, yesterday, for example, facilitating a strategy session that Barbara and I set up with three trustees, a foundation manager, the KHC manager, an NCCI supervisor and three NCCI consultants. For that meeting I prepared a 5-page handout concerning current financial condition and competency guidelines for recruiting of an additional 3 trustees. Out of that meeting we prepared an Action Plan with tasks for the attendees to complete by various due dates in November.
I had promised to keep these blog posts short, but I hope this conveys the nature of the work that has engaged us to date. What are we really doing? Trying to get the women in need back to work at the sewing and embroidering machines and creating the fine crafts for which they have been paid in both dollars and dignity. The Deed of Trust for Karas Huisen Crafts has as its purpose: