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A Window Into Our Heart: Dsenyo and the Social Impact in Zambia

Dsenyo is committed not only to empowering our artisan partners, but to providing you, the customer and members of this global tribe, with transparent information about our fair trade impacts. In early 2014, we partnered with a new group of artisans in Zambia. Since the beginning of this relationship, we have celebrated our shared passion for empowering artisans and for supporting ethical standards in the process.  We are excited to share findings from our first comprehensive social impact survey with our partners in Zambia.

A Brief History  Zambia is a landlocked country found in southern Africa and bordering the country of Malawi, home of Dsenyo’s first artisan community.  There exists widespread poverty and tough living conditions for much of Zambia’s population with over 60% living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Women continue to suffer lower employment rates than males and HIV is prevalent.  Through our artisan partnerships, Dsenyo hopes to improve these conditions and boost the quality of life in the communities in which we work.

 

Beginning of Our Relationship The Dsenyo Zambia partnership was a perfect complement. The Zambian jewelry social enterprise, called Mulberry Mongoose, sought to expand their customer base, while Dsenyo sought a fitting artisan partnership. After exploring the idea together, Dsenyo launched the Mulberry Mongoose artisan partnership in early 2014. What make this relationship unique are not only the shared passion for original fair trade jewelry, but also Mulberry Mongoose’s efforts to support anti-poaching campaigns in the region through their jewelry; their commitment to ethical standards within their business and within their community were in line with Dsenyo.

 

Today, Mulberry Mongoose is one of four artisan groups who partner with Dsenyo and produce our fair trade products.  Collectively, these groups now comprise approximately 120 artisans around the world.  

History of the Social Impact Survey After years of partnerships and talking about the social and economic impacts of fair trade, Dsenyo wanted to measure the real effects of our business for women and artisans. We designed a unique and innovative social impact survey to measure indicators across nine key impact areas - including income, housing, food security, and social empowerment, among others. This social impact survey was crafted for two purposes: 1) strategic planning to better support artisan partners, and 2) authentic messaging that creates a personal connection from customers to artisans.

In October 2014, Marissa traveled to Zambia to visit our partners, conduct surveys, and host a training workshop. We were inspired by the artisans' desire to participate openly and have their voice heard. The detailed information gathered in the survey has allowed us to set a baseline for measuring growth over time and develop plans to further assist our partners.

The Artisans The social impact survey included five Zambian artisans who work with Mulberry Mongoose.  These four women and one man (between the ages of 21 and 43) have performed full/part-time work on Dsenyo orders and have been with Mulberry Mongoose for a range of one month to six years.

  • 4 out of the 5 artisans are married
  • 3 of the artisans are educated to grade 12
  • 1 educated to grade 9
  • 1 educated to 5

Highlights of Dsenyo's Relationship with the Artisans - Professional Development & Income Stability

Skills Development  Our artisans have each seen significant improvement in their own skills and capabilities thanks to training provided by Dsenyo.  One artisan remarked,

“Yes, (my) skills have improved. I not only make bags
but things for other customers as well.”  - Esnart Phiri

From Novice to High Level of Skill  80% of artisans started out as novice or with no experience and have now reached an intermediate or higher level of craft skill.  This growth can be attributed to consistent work on Dsenyo orders and Mulberry Mongoose’s dedication to providing skills training and support.

Supporting Families  Our five artisans help to support a community of 35 people, 19 of which are dependents.  A powerful distinction in our work with Zambia’s Mulberry Mongoose group is that Mulberry Mongoose employs the women artisans full-time, which means that they do not need to seek work elsewhere and can rely on stable income. 

Above the Poverty Line  We are proud to report that our full-time artisans make 40zmk (Zambian Kwacha) or more a day.  This equates to a general take home income of $116 per month when the gross national average of workers take home is less than $100 a month.  Their salary from Mulberry Mongoose is more than 215% over the international poverty line.

 

Expenditures (or the prosperity of a household) The artisans primarily spend their money toward daily living expenses such as food and clothing, and toward investing in education or a house.  One artisan is currently saving money to attend college while others support dependents and the growth of their assets.  

School Enrollment  100% of our artisan mothers are able to send each of their children to school as well as purchase educational necessities and pay school fees.

Empowerment  Though Dsenyo works with a smaller group of artisans for our Zambia jewelry line, our impact is larger than our individual pool of artisans.  The quality of life benefits of working for Dsenyo that our artisans in Zambia have shared are very tangible and inspiring for other women in the community.  One artisan commented on the pride that she feels and is able to display for others because of her resources.  She states:

“I’m (a) respected, responsible woman, hard working, when they see me riding a bike, they are encouraged” 

Other artisans comment on their dreams for the future:

“I want to improve my jewelry skills, learn how to design, have my own business, (and) build a house.”

Lifestyle Improvements  Food security can be a major variable for artisans and their families.  Dsenyo has had a positive impact on this issue.  100% of our artisans say that their food security has improved in the last year and that they rarely skip meals.

Security of Modern Amenities The artisans benefit from the following amenities listed below:

 

From the Artisans:

“We are really happy for your support, you're doing a great job. Our lives are better, please continue.”
“Thank you so much for supporting us. Please continue, we are so happy."
“[Dsenyo] has changed me, I can stand on my feet. I continue to help at the house”

 

 

Dsenyo, through the support of our global tribe, is grateful to provide stable income, support, and life quality improvements to the artisans.  We are committed to continually deepening our partnerships and empowering artisans to succeed. We hope such information helps you understand how your purchase makes a difference.

We invite questions, comments, and discussion from you on Dsenyo’s social and economic impacts.  

 

E-mail:  info@dsenyo.com

 

Written by Meredith

Infographics by Linda Xiong



 

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