Since the opening of its first overseas office in Ghana in March 2003, Women in Progress (WIP) has been focusing on launching its International Trade program. Taking an unusual approach, WIP started at the end. What? Before making a full-force effort to help businesses become “export ready”, WIP helped its clients to first identify overseas markets!
Filling orders on an increasing scale since June has allowed WIP’s clients to build their capacity through “on the job” training. Using the “assisted implementation” approach, WIP helped 9 businesses manufacture products that were on time and met the rigorous quality standards of US consumers. By focusing on obtaining markets first, the women have been able to acquire customer feedback and proactively adapt to market tastes, introduce product standards, and implement processes for more efficient and consistent production.
With just a handful of volunteers and one employee, the founders of WIP have self-funded a pilot program that has assisted 9 businesses (54 total people including employees and apprentices) in Cape Coast to develop a unique line of clothing and accessories. WIP successfully secured preliminary markets in the US for these items and shipped 6 export orders with a combined retail value of over $22,000.
In just 5 months, WIP’s efforts led to the generation of 5 new jobs and an additional $970 in profit for each participating business—nearly doubling each business’ normal yearly profits. See page 2 for initial successes of 6 businesses.