The goal of WPMarket is not to reinvent the wheel when it comes to effectively reaching women and providing them valuable skills, business training, and/or microfinance. The reality is that there are plenty of organizations providing these benefits, as demonstrated by our partners.
We absolutely believe that this type of programming, when done in a sustainable and facilitative way, can be a catalyst in breaking the cycle of poverty. However, in working for many of these types of organizations and through our discussions with future partners, we see that local markets are often too saturated with products and international markets are often too difficult to reach without sufficient human and capital resources for logistics, marketing, and sales that our partners, who are all non-profits or cooperatives, often don’t have. The fact that they are also usually representing only one country and/or a certain number of products is also limiting. On the other hand, our goal is not to simply be a fair trade importer. While doing good work, there are also plenty of those, and we feel there is more we can do to support these types or organizations and the female artisans in a truly meaningful way.
With this thought process in mind, we developed our model to respond to the demand we see. By partnering with vetted organizations providing programming to female entrepreneurs, we are able to have a dual impact. First, we are able to provide income to the female artisans that our partners are working with by selling their products through our website and at local markets and events. This higher income enables the women to better provide necessities for herself and her family while also allowing them to work in a safe, collaborative, and flexible work environment that otherwise might not have been possible. We also see that women who have access to and control of economic resources tend to take on positions of leadership in their households and their communities. Second, by reinvesting a portion of the sales price (up to 20%) into our partner organizations, we are able to support them in continuing their valuable programs. In this way, both the artisans and the organizations benefit.
That said, by providing income to the women at fair prices and by reinvesting a large percentage into our partners, we aren’t left with an extremely profitable model. On one hand, that’s okay: we’re still able to cover our costs, and we are able to support our partners in a meaningful way that reflects our mission. (Dana and I weren’t thinking we could quit our day jobs anyway!). On the other hand, this limits the speed at which we can grow the number of partners we support, the number and types of products we offer, and the number of ways in which we support our partners.
For this reason, we launched our Indiegogo campaign. Our hope is that through this campaign we will be able to raise additional funds for two purposes. First, to increase the number of partners and products we have with an emphasis on further partnering with organizations that have little or no access to international markets. The demand is there, they are just waiting for us to partner with them! Second, to further expand our level and types of support to our current partners. We envision being able to eventually offer grants and other types of support to our partners. Know that your investment will be used directly to grow our programs (not cover salary expenses, as we are entirely volunteer run!)
We’re interested in your thoughts and questions. What do you think of our model? Do you see areas for collaboration? If so, let us know in the comments below or by contacting us as email@example.com.
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