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Ache commented on “Water Hyacinth - Help Me Stand” Initiative

Dear Amplify Team,
Thanks you for your feedback. Please find our comments addressing the questions raised.

There is a growing demand in Nigeria for the crafts we make from water hyacinth and other forms of agrowaste. With little marketing to-date we have been able to grow sales of our products and services 150%+ year on year since 2011. Our sales come through direct customer order requests. Our customers range from individuals to institutions. We currently retail in four stores and also have an online presence. We recently joined the WFTO and have been granted provisional membership. We believe that being a part of this organization would open doors to wholesale buyers. If we can secure long-term supply contracts, we believe the initiative will grow itself. We have evidence from some of the communities making woven rope. The news of the economic benefits has been spread by the micro-entrepreneurs themselves and the number of weavers joining the supply chain has grown exponentially. We expect this to be replicated within the new group of physically challenged producers we would be empowering through this new initiative. Apart from providing requirements to the producers, we also monitor their production and provide feedback. The final products pass through a final quality control inspection at the MitiMeth Hub. We also agree with the producers that if the product is off spec, the price paid to the producer would be discounted.

Our key partnerships for the execution of this Initiative include the following:
• Strategic Partnerships with Social Investors and Philanthropists
•Collaborative partnerships with Community Grassroot Organizations, Social Welfare Agencies, Fairtrade Organizations, Export Promotion Agencies
•Strategic Alliances with Logistics providers, Online Marketplaces, Retailers
•Supplier Alliances with Producing Communities, State Waterways Agencies
•Collaborative partnerships with Creative Artists, Designers. Sculptors, Textile Artists, Wholesale Buyers

Our Successes
+ Growing Artisan base and integration into the MitiMeth supply chain. The number has doubled over the past two years.
+ Growing domestic demand for our products. Year (2015) on year (2016) sales grew by 126% despite Nigeria’s economy being in a recession in 2016.
+ Growing awareness of MitiMeth products and services. We were selected by GIZ to participate in Fair Friends 2016 in Dortmund, Germany (which was our first International Trade Fair).

Our Challenging Areas (not exactly failures!)
+ Being able to fully persuade some groups of people with disabilities to shun the lifestyle of begging and come to be trained to earning a living from decent work especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria.
+ Providing distribution platforms that would enable producers to have guaranteed supply agreements and keep the Artisans permanently engaged in the trade. We have reached out to government agencies responsible for Tourism and Culture but they have been extremely slow in responding.
+ Yet to engage the services of Designers that would provide professional input into our Artisan’s product designs and current production processes. We have tried reaching out to various technical assistance groups / platforms but we have not been successful either due to cost or non-responsiveness.
The needs we seek to address are those of reducing poverty and providing decent work to communities (SDG#1 & SDG#8). We are targeting both women and youth with disabilities. The Nigerian environment can be a harsh environment for those without disabilities in terms of education and formal employment opportunities. For those who have physical challenges, the harsh realities are amplified because the support infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities exists in limited forms.

I believe this project will help people to see the ability of people with disabilities. And the potential of empowered people with disabilities to stand on their own. In our society, there is an empathy for people with disabilities. But sometimes, the empathy can be synonymous with subtle suppression where able-bodied people believe that people with disabilities are incapable and are therefore relegated to a position of dependence on the goodwill of generous individuals. That is the perception we want to change.
The project is actually targeting persons with disabilities who and are looking for income generating opportunities and have the ability to use both hands. The people after the training workshop would be able to make their handicrafts from the comfort of their homes once they have their supplies.
The demand for our locally made handcrafted products has seen organic growth over the past 6 years. The current recession has also made our locally made products more competitive in the global marketplace. There is an ongoing drive to promote "Made in Nigeria" products. Water hyacinth can be used for biogas, livestock feed and phyto-remediation.

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Ache commented on “Water Hyacinth - Help Me Stand” Initiative

Hello FDI!
Sorry about the late response. Sure.....our web link is http://www.mitimeth.com. You can visit the blog section of the site as well as the Collection section to see how we are transforming Water Hyacinth into aesthetic functional use. We have posts on Instagram as well http://mitimeth.ng. Hope these sources provide the information you are looking for, if not let me know. Thanks.
Best Regards,
Achenyo

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Ache commented on “Water Hyacinth - Help Me Stand” Initiative

Hello Ashely!

Many thanks for reaching out. We currently have a partnership with Oluyole Cheshire Home where we provided Crafts training to the residents (see https://www.mitimeth.com/single-post/2016/1/13/Giving-Back for details on how the partnership evolved). I am also a Board member of The Christ Foundation , a ministry unto the physically challenged and has a wide membership and several collaborative partnerships with organizations involved with physically challenged persons in the city.

Look forward to continuing the conversation........

Best Regards,
Achenyo