Tag Archives: women and business

Women – Just not Sufficiently Committed to (Social) Enterprise?

Women in Social Enterprise: Wobbles on the Tracks

Women in (Social) Enterprise: Wobbles on the Tracks

As part of this journey of muka kids I don’t just write about how fantastic social enterprise is, why I want to do what I do, the changes that need to happen in the clothing industry, and the systems that need innovating in the way we buy and use clothes, I write about when the wheels start to come off. Or as we call it in our house the ”Thomas and the Wobbly Wheels” scenario. This particular wobble relates to the best model to ensure social enterprise or business success.

I know from my life as a researcher and psychologist, good intentions are no indicator of success. In fact good intentions without good planing, research and investment are a bloody terrible thing because they raise up expectations all over the place and then drop them flat down on their face. The question I have had to ask myself a lot in the last few days is – am I well intentioned but not well qualified and not well prepared? These are really good questions to ask, all people should ask themselves this a lot, about lots of things, but especially when they are spending a lot of personal resources (all types) on a project that many other people make sacrifices for also. Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

10 Ways to Make Kids Clothes Last Longer: Design Features (Part 1 of 2)

Increasing the lifespan of clothes has a whole HEAP of benefits.  At muka kids  we know keeping kids clothes in longer use will help save the planet and is (of course) better for family budgets. Improving the sustainability of clothing is part of the reason why we have a marketplace to buy and sell previously loved organic and ethical kids clothing. In this, the first of a two part feature on making kids clothes last,  I want to focus on the ten design features that make kids clothes last longer. The second feature covers 10 ways that you can care for kids clothes that will help them last longer (based on science- I love science!)

The carbon, water and waste footprint of clothes is surprisingly large (the average family’s annual clothes requirements produce carbon the equivalent of driving 10,000 km, uses 889 baths worth of water and creates the waste equivalent to throwing out 80 pairs or so of jeans). So, it is a resource intensive process making new clothes, using them (and then not using them). The longer we can make clothes last and the greater number of kids that wear an item, the less environmental damage that particular piece of clothing is responsible for (and all the better for budgets too).

 

140707 Quote for extending life of clothes blog part 1

 

What are the Ten Design Features  That Help Clothes Last Longer? Continue Reading →

The Tortoise NOT the Hare

20140617_2439

animal dreams

This is a story that has animal references. To be truthful I am not entirely sure why, but perhaps in life there is not many a situation that cannot be understood through an animal analogy. Also it may be because at present in our house there seems to be a fixation on the animal world (namely those we eat).

Mum?

Yes?

Is this chicken?

Indeed it is.

How did the chicken die? Did someone shoot it in the head with a bow and arrow?’

Que hysterical laughter as I picture a chicken farmer trying desperately to cull free range chickens (yep that is how we roll in our house free range cluckers) via a feathered arrow to its teeny weeny chicken head. Perhaps it was not so much funny  (it was 5.30pm on a midweek night after a day struggling with ‘the balance’ -you know the work/life/money/ home/new business one), as it was just that I had gone a bit loopy.

But hey ho this is not a story about a Gary Larson cartoon, rather it is about pacing myself in the world of start-ups.

Continue Reading →

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).