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Ten Reflections on Crowdfunding

The squirrel is resting (or perhaps comatose)

The squirrel is resting (or perhaps comatose)

So a week into muka kids crowdfunding campaign here are ten reflections on the experience.

  1. Newborn induced sleep deprivation is hard. Putting together a crowdfunding campaign in 10 days may be on a par with this, and certainly involves less oxytocin.
  2. Camera people/ filmmakers/ documentarians you are artists. I am not.
  3. Sound people you must hate Wellington & our wind.
  4. Editors you must curse unprofessional camera people and the Wellington wind (see above).
  5. It feels a bit weird to ask people so seed fund your social enterprise even when you absolutely want to change the world and other people are on board with that kaupapa too. But possibly no more strange and no less worthy than asking people to support you to cross four polar ice-caps or do an apprenticeship with the NZ dance company. Though certainly less weird than crowdfunding to make a potato salad.
  6. It is hard at times to just be cool with the support others joyfully give (I suspect this may be a woman thing… see my post on start-ups and women).
  7. I cry at the drop of a hat when people write & say super supportive things (something to do perhaps with point 1)
  8. My mum, my partner and my sister are my number one fans in very different ways. My kids though,  they are kind of ho hum about me right now.
  9. Being called ‘a mum who makes organic clothes’ feels like a gross misrepresentation of both me & muka kids, but is probably something I am just going to have to live with at times, reductionist as it is.
  10. Lots of people I do not know (and lots I do) really get this thing and want to see it fly. And that is cool indeed.

Fairtrade Clothing is a Woman’s Issue? Seriously?

I was contemplating a particularly strange social media phenomena recently; where women post selfies with signs stating why they don’t need feminism ( for a giggle read this great come back). Anyway, I was considering this straight after I had made a post on a documentary exploring cheap clothing manufacture in Bangladesh and South-East Asia, in which I highlighted something I have noted before – that the cheap clothing industry operates cheaply primarily through the exploitation of women.

In fact  80% of the jobs in clothing production are occupied by women, though the lions share of senior positions and wages go to men. I have also noted in my post on the problems with clothing production that one of the serious hidden issues in clothing production are ‘homeworkers’ or ‘outsourcing’. Where a mainly female workforce, working from home is required to deliver massive outputs to factories for what equates to less than the local minimum wage (they are paid per garment not by the hour). This is possible because such work flies under the radar of the casual factory observer, they are often on no contracts at all and do the work casually, so there is no record either. Which is why I always put on my ‘face of skepicality’  (yep a new word I made up just for this) when people tell me they know their manufacturers are ‘fair’ ones because they have visited the factory floor. So fair trade is a woman’s issue because:

Women working in industry in developing countries are just like you and me but without real choices.

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That little bit of crazy just got bigger

As anyone who has spent any time (like more than 10 minutes) with me will attest to, at the best I times I have a little touch of the manic about me, just a wee glimpse of crazy in my eye and a slight propensity to the 1000 yard stare. This is mainly due I suspect to what psychologists and zen type people will call the ‘inability to live in the present’, and what I call ‘being a working parent who has also decided to start a business’.

 

Well today, I am sorry to say, that little bit of crazy just went full on postal. I put this down to a nasty combination of an overconfident sense of what I could manage a year or so back and some idiot biological function that means humans can only focus fully on tasks if they had a reasonable amount of sleep and down time.

 

Today my day looked like this:

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Sustainable Business and the Ladies

Chatting recently with another parent, who is also in the social enterprise line, we were reflecting on the difficulties that women with kids have in finding a place in the whole ‘start-up’[1] business culture. I say women with kids because the reality is that women remain the primary caregivers of children in our society even when they work (working part-time more than men etc).

It gave me pause to reflect about our global need to move to economies based on sustainable businesses (business that works with and for the environment and people), and whether we are failing to address a rather large impediment to getting there: the ladies, or rather the lack of the ladies.

So my thinking goes like this. There is a huge market out there providing resources and support for start-ups, but the support that is offered, is in the main structured towards the lifestyle of the young, childless bloke. So all weekend workshops run till 1 am, 6 month incubator programmes, fulltime and more, the full total immersion approach… you get the idea, not a scenario many women with kids can fully embrace, but one which the young and childless can. It will be no surprise to most of you when I say that generally, business (including the new models of start-ups) is structured in a way that does not take into account how a lot of women currently work and live in our society. While there are plenty of young women out there without kids that can do the start-up thing equally with men the reality is that a start-up is often not a single enterprise. Rather multiple business and entrepreneurial adventures are entered into across a lifetime; meaning that eventually most women involved in the start-up life are going to experience the sharp end of this particular stick.

Where the picture looks slightly different is in social enterprise – essentially a social enterprise is a start-up with a social, ethical, environmental mission at its core. In the UK twice as many women run social enterprise than lead small business. Which makes me wonder if there is something about the social enterprise culture in particular that presents fewer barriers and more levers to women when compared to traditional business models, or just that it is easier to push through the existing barriers to business as a woman if you have the extra motivation of a social or environmental mission you want to achieve?

So where am I going with this? Well here is the crux of it: if starting up in business is more difficult for women because of the way the current model of support and incubation is constructed, and if more women are involved and interested in starting up sustainable and social business, then to be really successful at turning our economy into one built on social and sustainable business we need to better understand (and do something about) what impedes or assists women in starting up in any enterprise.

Interested in this issue? here are some more resources…..

Start-up funding success and gender

Why women offer something a bit different to business

Some cool social enterprises for women and girls

 

and here is some of my many different types of work..

and here are just a few of my many different types of work…..

[1] “a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. These companies, generally newly created, are in a phase of development and research for markets. …” (thanks Wikipedia).