Souvenirs, self-catering, and scaling up

Before setting up a commercial endeavour, we’re told we need a business plan, a budget, a forecast – a bucketload of ‘wishful thinking’, truth be told, when you’re trying to enter the market in a recession and with a product that’s untried and untested. For the projects under the ‘Good for Namibia’ banner, this means that (if you will pardon the pun) business development is likely to be a far more organic process.

As Amory, Julia and I have discovered with the pilot enterprise, ‘Sew Good’, some of our objectives and plans have fallen away as others have emerged to take their place. Certainly, my initial idea to market items and take orders online hasn’t taken off: Namibia, it seems, isn’t ready to purchase products without seeing them. And environmentally conscious locals already have their own reusable shopping bags, often purchased overseas, so they’re not ready to buy more (albeit they report never remembering to take their existing ones out of the car when they visit the store!)

The latest stats show a small but steady growth in visitors coming to Namibia over the past decade and so these folk represent the group of consumers we are aiming to reach in 2020, while we continue to meet the needs of locals who are growing increasingly aware of ‘green living’ choices of course. We’re therefore very happy that speculative emails recently sent to a few Windhoek B&B and self-catering accommodation establishments have resulted in some interest from managers who wish to offer our patchwork bags to visitors who will be looking for locally made souvenirs and reusable bags for shopping in town or travelling around the country – especially important since the ban on single-use plastic bags in national parks came into force.

Lined tote bags made by the ‘Sew Good’ project specifically for the tourism market. Thanks to all at @RivendellGuestHouse for agreeing to stock the first consignment.

A big ‘Thanks!’ therefore to Erika at the Rivendell Guest House (http://www.rivendell-namibia.com/) who liaised with the owners and arranged to place some of our bags on consignment, the such first place to do so. We hope that as the tourism season begins we will be able to deliver regular volumes for this establishment to sell on our behalf, as well as to backpacker lodges and similar places. This is probably a more realistic way to sell the bags than renting a stall at the regular markets (which mostly cater to locals), especially as the hardworking women of the project simply don’t have time to attend to a stand over the weekend when they work all week already.