Some day Janet will have a business of her own. It is a dream she never imagined could come true. Janet lives in a small community in Ghana with limited employment opportunities. Her family was struggling and while she helped out on the family farm, she wasn't earning any money of her own. Then, she met an organization called Action Through Enterprise (ATE) that would change her life.
You may remember Janet and ATE from last summer when we introduced the two after Janet received one of our bikes from Village Bicycle Project (VBP). Two years ago, Janet found ATE and had no idea she'd end up where she is today. She joined the VocATE program to become a seamstress and dreamed of opening a tailor shop of her own.
At thirty years old, Janet is older than most of the apprentices in the program but that didn't discourage ATE or Janet. She didn't know how to sew and has never had a paying job. As an apprentice Janet still doesn't earn any income, but she is paid in knowledge and experience. And she has been making clothing for her family.
"I always wanted to be a seamstress, but had no support until this opportunity came along. My family were excited about what I was doing. I had always wanted to be a seamstress, but there were so many things I didn't know, like how to deal with and relate to customers. At first, I couldn't sew or anything, but now I can make clothing for my own family."Janet, Second Senior Apprentice
Her mentor is Teresa who owns the shop where Janet works. Teresa is also an ATE graduate. In 2015, ATE awarded Teresa a small business grant to grow this business into what it is today. She has taken on several apprentices which allows her to complete a lot more work at very low cost.
When Janet starting working as a seamstress she was walking two hours every day to work. The long commute was affecting her time with her family. Janet is also the mother of a little girl named Patience. Patience is something she had to remember during those long walks to work. In more ways than one.
Then ATE helped her buy a bicycle and she cut that commute in half- more than half. She now saves nearly three hours a day by riding instead of walking. She is still up at 4am to fetch water for Patience's bath. She has to start a fire and warm the water all before the rest of the family even begins their day. Nothing quick or easy where Janet lives. But now she can complete her chores, care for her family, and still get to work on time, thanks to her bicycle.
Janet has been promoted to Second Senior Apprentice which comes with a lot more responsibility. She often open up the shop and delegates the work of the day, so she can't be late. She has become a talented seamstress, and many customers now ask for her by name. She has learned about not only sewing, but also marketing, customer service, and how to run a business- all the skills she needs to start her own shop one day. Hopefully one day soon.
Content supplied by Action Through Enterprise.