Rose, Joyce and Sharon have been living in Webuye - a town two hours away from Kipsongo - since late August in an apartment rented out by the project. They spend their mornings taking classes and their afternoons practicing what was learned in class. This past week, they made samples of each of the items in the first collection. The samples came out great and are currently on their way to New York where Laura will hold a holiday event in mid December (details to follow).
This coming week, we will be making trips to Nairobi and to Kampala, Uganda to purchase all the materials and items needed to complete the first phase of production. Our goal is to have this first phase completed by early February as we are planning a big event in New York for late February. It's a bit ambitious but we're confident that Rose, Joyce and Sharon, along with a number of talented jewelers we're working with in Kipsongo, can complete the work on time.
Aside from the fashion line, we're continuing to work on other projects within Kipsongo. We have about 10 women now who have received micro-loans through the project. The businesses they have started include general kiosks, a bakery, charcoal kiosks and cereals shops. All of the recipients are doing well with their businesses and some have already begun repaying their loans. Microfinance in Kipsongo is traditionally a big challenge as most of the women receiving loans don't know how to read or write, and some don't even speak Swahili - Kenya's national language. We therefore were unsure as to how successful the microfinance program would be, so we're happy to see that it seems to be working well so far.
We're also continuing to plan for a combined nutrition and education program. We're currently working with Terri, a local high school student, to incorporate a mentoring program into the nutrition/education program to help the children realize their full potential and all of the opportunities and options available to them.
Next week we'll post updates on production of the clothing line, on our online holiday jewelry sale, and details of the holiday event in New York, so stay tuned! As always, thank you for your interest and support from all of us at the Kipsongo Project!